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Harold R Ford WILLIAM E. COLBY CIA History Staff 






by Harold P. Ford 

10 August 2011 




EO 13526 3.3(b)(1)>25Yrs 
EO 13526 3.3(b)(6)>25Yrs 
EO 13526 6.2(d) 



The years of William Colby’s tenure as Director of Central 
Intelligence, 1973-76, formed a watershed in CIA’s history. Dr. 
Harold P. Ford’s study explains how in thesdS years CIA, buffeted 
by Watergate, the outbreak of a short war in the Middle East, and 
the end of a long war in Vietnam, suddenly found itself account- 
able to Congress in ways never expected or experienced before. 
The wrenching Congressional investigations of CIA in 1975 and 
1976, and the new permanent oversight committees that resulted 
from them, have produced — and continue to produce — dramatic 
and pervasive changes in CIA’s work and culture. By revealing 
how William Colby dealt with the avalanche of troubles that 
descended upon the Agency during his watch, Hal Ford’s study 
offers readers a new understanding of this DCI’s performance as 
crisis manager in CIA’s most difficult time of trial. 

After graduating from the University of Redlands, Harold P. 
Ford served as a naval officer in the Pacific in World War II and 
then took a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. In 1950 he joined 
CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination, and while William Colby 
was chief of the Directorate of Plans’ Far East Division in the 
1 960s, Ford as a senior staff officer of the Office of National Esti- 
mates joined him in Vietn am working groups, and as 

reported directly to Colby. Ford retired 

from CIA in 1974 and in 1975 Joined the staff of the Church com- 
mittee, whose investigation of CIA is a major topic in this work. 
He was a staff member of the new Senate Select Committee on 
Intelligence from its inception in 1976 until 1980, when he 
returned to CIA to join the National Intelligence Council. After 
serving as the Council’s vice chairman and acting chairman, Hal 
Ford again retired in September 1 986 and was promptly recruited 
as an independent contractor for the CIA History Staff. 






Ponraii by Lloyd Embry, 1974 

William Egan Colby 

The DCI Historical Series 




by Harold P. Ford 

History Staff 

Center for the Study of Intelligence 
Central Intelligence Agency 
Washington, D.C. 



Editor’s Preface ix 

Introduction xi 

Part I: Good Intentions, 1973-1974 1 

Chapter 1. Colby the Man 3 

Colby’s Makeup 6 

Colby’s Goals 8 

Colby’s Attempts To Further His Goals 10 

Chapter 2. The Troubled Setting 13 

Chapter 3, The Yom Elippur War of October 1973 25 

The Performance of Intelligence After the October War’s Outbreak 35 

The DefCon EH Affair 36 

Chapter 4. Responses to White House Pressures 

for Improved Intelligence 41 

The National Intelligence Officer (NIO) System 43 

Key Intelligence Questions (KIQs) 52 

Management by Objectives 55 

Office of Political Research 56 

Intelligence Community Postmortems 57 

New Analytic Methodologies 57 

National Intelligence Survey 58 

FOCUS Program 58 

Changes in DO Procedures 59 

Administrative and Organizational Changes 59 

Agency-Wide Operations Center 60 

Intelligence Community’s Warning Capabilities and “Alert Memos” 60 

National Intelligence Bulletin and Daily Information Summaries 60 

Retrospect on Colby’s Managerial Initiatives 51 

Chapter 5. Congressional Issues, 1973-1974 53 

Senator Howard Baker, Watergate, and CIA ^ 55 

Congress and Covert Activities: The Hughes-Ryan Amendment 70 

Constructing an Omnibus NSCID 

Part II: Colby’s Black December, 1974 75 

Chapter 6 . Firing James Angleton 77 

Chapter 7. Seymour Hersh’s Charges Against the CIA 

Chapter 8 . Charges Against Richard Helms 

Colby Investigates Helms 

Part HI: Confrontation and Exit, 1975-1976 

Chapter 9. The Rockefeller Commission 

The Rockefeller Commission’s Findings 

Followups to the Rockefeller Commission’s Report 

Chapter 10 . The Church Committee 

Frank Church and His Committee 

Colby s Relationship With the Church Committee 

Retrospect on the Church Committee 

Chapter 11. The Pike Committee 

The Nedzi and Pike Committees 

Retrospect on the Pike Committee.,..., 

Chapter 12 . Other Slings and Arrows of 1975 

Colby and Bella Abzug 

Other Congressional Investigadons 


The Fall of South Vietnam 


... 109 


... 123 

... 125 

... 132 
... 135 

... 139 

.. 142 
.. 145 

.. 161 




.. 177 



The Glomar Explorer : Ig 5 

White House Pressure on CIA’s Soviet Weapons Estimates 187 

President Ford’s 1976 Executive Order on Intelligence 189 

Other Alarms and Excursions of 1975 191 

The Mayaguez Rescue 191 

Diego Garcia 192 

Covert US Support of Kurdish Rebels 192 

Soviet Military Spending 192 

Still Other Issues 193 

The End of the Road I 93 

Chapter 13. Retrospect I 95 

Postscript 199 

Appendix A: William E. Colby’s CIA Career 201 

Appendix B: Observations on William Colby’s Makeup 203 

Appendix C: Excerpts From Seymour Hersh’s Charges Against the CIA 
{The New York Times, 22 December 1974) 207 






Editor’s Preface 

The years 1973-76, William Colby’s tenure as Director of Central 
Intelligence, formed a watershed in CIA’s history. Dr. Harold R Ford’s 
study explains how in these years CIA, buffeted by Watergate, the outbreak 
of a short war in the Middle East, and the end of a long war in Vietnam, 
suddenly found itself accountable to Congress in ways never expected or 
experienced before. The wrenching Congressional investigations of CIA in 
1975 and 1976, and the new permanent oversight committees that resulted 
from them, have produced — and continue to produce — dramatic and perva- 
sive changes in CIA’s work and culture. Hal Ford’s judicious study, by 
revealing how William Colby dealt with the avalanche of troubles that 
descended upon the Agency during his watch, will reward any reader who 
suspects that crisis management — ^both bureaucratically and nationally — 
remains a useful skill. 

This study continues the DCI Historical Series, which beg an with 
|1971 study of Walter Bedell Smith and 
11973 study of Allen DuUes. Although Richard Lehman, a former 
Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, began this study of William 
Colby, his research was preempted by a more urgent Agency project, and 
we are fortunate that Hal Ford could take on the work. 

Hal Ford was educated at the University of Redlands, the University 
of Chicago (where he took his Ph.D. in 1950), and St. Antony’s College, 
Oxford. He served as a naval officer in the Pacific in World War II and 
joined CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination in 1950. For five years, 
1963-68, while William Colby was chief of the Directorate of Plans’ Far 
East Division, Hal Ford worked closely with him. From 1963 to 1965, as a 
senior staff officer of the Office of National Estimates, Ford joined Colby 
in a number of Viet nam interoffice working grou ps. Then, from 1965 to 
1968, when Ford was] Colby was his immediate 

superior for most of this time. In iy/4, aiierTurther service as a senior 
Directorate of Intelligence officer, Hal Ford retired from CIA. Following a 
year at Georgetown University, he joined the staff of the Church commit- 
tee, whose investigation of CIA is a major topic in this work. He was a 
staff member of the new permanent Senate Select Committee on 
Intelligence from its inception in 1976 until 1980, when he returned to the 
CIA to join the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the successor to the 
Board of National Estimates. After serving as Vice Chairman and Acting 
Chairman of the NIC, he again retired in September 1986 and was 
promptly recruited as an independent contractor for the CIA History Staff. 


William E, Colby 

Hal Ford’s experience with William Colby, CIA, and the Church 
committee, along with his scholarly training, were important qualifications 
for undertaking this study. More important, however, was his determination 
to follow the evidence wherever it led and to assess it objectively and judi- 
ciously. By its balanced appraisal of Colby’s performance as DCI, Ford’s 
eminently fair account of the overwhelming trials that Colby faced allows 
each reader to arrive at his or her own conclusions. 

We owe thanks to a host of people who made this work possible. 
They include the members of the Histo n^ Staff who helped edit and prepa re 
the manuscript, the professionals in the 


the Office of Current Producti on anorAnaiyac Support wno turne d the 
manuscript into a book, and the 


bers who crafted the well-made volume you now have in hand. 

Finally, I should note that, although this is an official publication of 
the CIA History Staff, the views expressed — as in all of our works — are 
those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the CIA. 

J. Kenneth McDonald 
Chief, CIA History Staff 

June 1993 



No person became Director of Central Intelligence in more strained 
and difficult circumstances than William Egan Colby. This unassuming 
professional intelligence officer, already tarnished in the public’s view by 
his involvement in the PHOENIX program in Vietnam, came to the 
Directorship with little political support, either inside or outside 
Washington. By the time he succeeded James R. Schlesinger as DCI in 
September 1973, the CIA had come under attack from a suspicious 
Congress, a sensationalist press, and, not least, a hostile White House. ' 

President Richard M. Nixon and his National Security Advisor, 
Henry A. Kissinger, were highly dissatisfied on many scores with CIA and 
the effectiveness of US intelligence. Nixon also held a number of personal 
grievances against the Agency, in particular for former DCI Richard 
Helms’s refusal to allow the CIA to participate in the Watergate covenip. 
For his part, Kissinger not only disdained CIA, but intended to run US in- 
telligence himself. 

By the time Colby became DCI, impeachment initiatives against the 
President had become a real possibility, and Nixon’s leadership was falter- 
ing. Suspicions were growing in Congress and in the media that the CIA 
had been guilty of numerous illegalities. Internally, the Agency was reeling 
from the whirlwind term of James Schlesinger. Externally, several shocks 
at the very outset of Colby’s DCI tenure — especially the overthrow and 
death of Chile’s President Salvador Allende and the failure of US intelli- 
gence to call the sudden Egyptian-Syrian (Yom Kippur) attack on 
Israel — ^fed the White House’s jaundiced view of the Agency, further com- 
plicated Colby’s relationships with Congress and the public, and con- 
strained his subsequent effectiveness as Director. 

This study, divided into three parts, examines Colby’s tenure as DCI. 
Part I treats his first 14 months as Director, from September 1973 to 
November 1974, a period in which Colby attempted to create a CIA more 
in tune with US Constitutional norms and so give it added stature and in- 
fluence within American society. These admirable efforts met with much 
open hostility from the White House, portions of the Congress, and many 
of Colby’s own colleagues within CIA. 

In May 1973, President Nixon nominated Colby to succeed Schlesinger as DCI. Schlesinger 
remained Director until 2 July, when he departed the Agency to become Secretary of 
Defense. For two months thereafter, until he was sworn in as DCI on 4 September, Colby 
shared DCI duties with the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Lt, Gen. Vernon Walters, 
who was legally Acting DCI. 


William E. Colby 

This study’s second part examines what can justly be called “Black 
December/September 1974,” the month in which three simultaneous crises 
combined to pull the roof down on Colby, These events were his dismissal 
of longtime counterintelligence chief James Angleton, New York Times 
journalist Seymour Hersh’s allegations that CIA was guilty of massive 
wrongdoings, and Colby’s decision to inform the Department of Justice 
that former DCI Richard Helms might be guilty of certain past illegalities. 
Together, these problems precipitated months of outside investigations of 
alleged CIA wrongdoing, set back Colby’s efforts to enhance public and 
Congressional appreciation of CIA and directly contributed to his downfall 
as DCI. 

This study’s third and final part deals with the remainder of Colby’s 
tenure as DCI (December 1974 to January 1976), a period in which he was 
sorely beset by a Presidential investigative commission, headed by Vice 
President Nelson Rockefeller; a Senate investigation, led by Frank Church 
(D-ID); and a House of Representatives inquiry, chaired by Otis Pike (D- 
NY). Ail of these occurred while numerous other demands were being 
made on US intelligence, and while President Gerald R. Ford, publicly dis- 
satisfied with Colby, worked to find someone to replace him as DCI. 

This study does not examine every aspect of William Colby’s 
stewardship as DCI, but purposely confines itself to highlighting the prin- 
cipal issues with which Colby wrestled, assessing his success in dealing 
with them, and drawing certain judgments and lessons from his record as 
Director of Central Intelligence. 

In assessing that record, we will see that many forces frustrated his 
admirable intentions. In part, the times were to blame: the troubled years 
from 1973 to 1976 offered a poor hand to anyone willing to take on the 
position as DCI, As it turned out, Colby was somewhat miscast, lacked sig- 
nificant political clout, and was to some degree a victim of circumstances. 
Moreover, he damaged his own case by a lack of finesse in handling cer- 
tain difficult personnel problems, an overly hopeful approach to the media 
and Congress’s investigations, and a failure to alert the White House to 
major CIA embarrassments before they hit the headlines. 

We will nonetheless also see that any assessment of William Colby’s 
stewardship as DCI must stress its many positive achievements. Certain of 
his managerial initiatives strengthened the Agency and the Intelligence 
Community, He recognized the changing needs in American society and 
policymaking, and sought to broaden US intelligence to meet those needs. 
Above all, he was determined that CIA must operate within the American 
system of law and accountability. Although he departed under a shadow of 
some disparagement from the White House and certain of his CIA col- 
leagues, Colby won heightened respect from many quarters for his commit- 
ment to reform. 




Part / 

Good Intentions, 1973-1974 







Chapter 1 

Colby the Man 

Failad: What could shake your icy imperturbability? You never 
do show your emotions^ do you? 

Colby: I am not emotional. I admit it. Just a few things bother me. For 
instance, what happened when I was nominated and some peo- 
ple put posters around Washington — ^posters illustrated with a 
very poor picture of me, by the way. They called me a mur- 
derer. And my children had to live with thaL But it didn’t 
really bother me. Not much. Oh, don’t watch me like that. 
You’re looking for something underneath which isn’t there. It’s 
all here on the surface, believe me. There is nothing behind or 
underneath. There are not two or three layers. I told you: I’m 
religious. I’m conservative .... 

Colby interview with Oriana Fallaci, 1976‘ 

William Colby was 53 when he became DCI. Bom 4 January 1920 in St 
Paul, Minnesota, he was the son of a career Army olSicer, Elbridge Colby. Of 
New England Protestant stock, the elder Colby had converted to Roman 
Catholicism, earned B.A., M.A., and Ph,D. degrees at Columbia University, and 
served as an instmctor in English at Columbia and the University of Minnesota. 
He fought in World War I, then joined the regular Army in 1920. Retiring in 
1948 as a full colonel, he established and headed the journalism department at 
George Washington University, His wife, William Colby’s mother, was 
Margaret Mary Egan, whom Elbridge Colby had met at the University of 

Colby’s parents influenced him greatly. Throughout his Army career 
his father had been an independent thinker, a writer, and a champion of 
civil rights. These convictions “haunted his career for years,” Colby later 
observed, noting how the Army had treated his father poorly for his out- 
spoken defense of a wronged black soldier in Georgia. From his mother, 
William Colby gained a strong Catholicism and an early attachment to the 

'William Colby, interview by Oriana Fallaci, The Washington Star, 1 March 1976 
(hereafter cited as Colby interview by Fallaci, 7 March 1976). 

William E. Colby 


causes of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing. His father’s Army career 
meant that the family was constantly on the move, from Minnesota to 
Georgia to Vermont, as well as from the Panama Canal Zone to Tientsin, 
China. This lifestyle fostered in Colby a curiosity about world affairs and 
an eagerness to be off to new places and experiences. But this semigypsy 
life also had the effect, as he later stated, of “making me feel an outsider 
everywhere, with roots really nowhere.” The longest period of settled life 
in Colby’s youth was his three years at high school in Burlington, Vermont, 
where his father was assigned as an ROTC professor at the University of 
Vermont. Even there young Colby felt he was the new boy in town, a 
Catholic in Protestant Establishment circles. He later observed that this 
“was a feeling I brought with me when I was admitted to Princeton in 

Originally desiring an Army career, but rejected by West Point be- 
cause of nearsightedness, William Colby was soon caught up in the in- 
tellectual stimulation and challenge of Princeton — where he earned his way 
by waiting on tables. He remained essentially an outsider, however, content 
quietly to go his own way. Only as a cadet captain in the ROTC did Colby 
feel he achieved any campus prominence. 

At Princeton, Colby became particularly interested in world affairs. 
He declared himself a liberal, an antifascist, and an interventionist. He 
wrote his senior thesis on French policy toward the Spanish Civil War, 
criticizing Paris sharply for its failure to support Madrid’s Republican 
government against Franco. He later explained that this did not put him on 
the side of the Communists, who also supported the Republic: 

I was perfectly convinced — ^which of course many supporters of the Republican 
cause were not — that it was possible to be antifoscist without becoming pro- 
Communist Indeed, if anything, I was as anti-Coramunist as I was antifascist, 
and for the same reason — conviction that freedom is a transcendent value.^ 

Colby spent the summer following his junior year in France, where 
he developed a deep affection for the French people; he was there when 
World War II broke out in September 1939. Returning to the United States, 
he graduated from Princeton in 1940, just as France fell to German con- 
quest. In August 1941, after a year at Columbia University Law School, he 
entered active duty in the Army as a reserve second lieutenant, some four 
months before Pearl Harbor. Following various Army assignments in the 
United States, including parachute training at Fort Penning, Georgia, 
Colby joined the newly formed Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and in 
December 1943 shipped out for the United Kingdom. Various causes, he 
later explained, impelled him to join this activist organization: boredom in 
his Army assignments; a wish not be left out of the action; an inclination to 

^William Colby (and Peter Forbath), Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA (New York: Simon 
and Schuster, 1978), p. 29. 

^Colby, Honorable Men, p. 31. 




Colby the Man 

military unorthodoxy; an interest in the political aspects of war; and a habit 
of going his own way, of seeking his own band of “kindred souls,” where 
the payoff was based on spirit and capabilities, not social status.“ 

Once in Europe with the OSS, Colby parachuted into a resistance 
aroup area in the Department of Yonne (some 100 miles south and east of 
Paris), two months after D-day/ There he helped plan the airdrops of 
weapons and ammunition to various maquis networks, helped pick the 
most likely drop zones, and ended up receiving a black Cadillac that had 
belonged to Vichy Prime Minister, Pierre Laval. In March of 1945, after a 
period back in England, Colby commanded an OSS group of 100 
Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans who parachuted onto a frozen lake 
in central Norway, just north of Trondheim. He led this team on a success- 
ful sabotage mission, skiing some 100 miles across country in six days to 
blow up a German-controlled bridge. Later, they destroyed railroad tracks 
and engaged in a firefight with German troops. In May of 1945, shortly 
after V-E Day, after taking the surrender of a German garrison in Norway, 
Colby and his OSS group participated in the National Day parade in 
Trondheim before Crown Prince Olaf. 

Having won the Bronze Star and the Croix de Guerre for his service 
in France, as well as the Silver Star and St. Olaf’s Medal for that in 
Norway, Major Colby returned to the United States. When World War II 
ended, Colby was training for another OSS assignment in East Asia. Five 
years later, in 1950, he returned to an OSS-type life, this time as a civilian 
member of a postwar covert action paramilitary wing of the US 
Government, blandly titled the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). 

In the meantime in September 1945, Colby had married Barbara 
Heizen, a former Barnard College student he had met and dated before 
joining the Army in 1941. Finishing Columbia Law School in 1947, he be- 
came a junior associate in the law firm of his ex-OSS chief, William J. 
Donovan.* Though now a young attorney in a Republican law firm, Colby 
rang doorbells for Harry Truman in 1948, supported an anti-Tammany 
wing of New York’s Democratic Party, and joined the American Civil 
Liberties Union. In 1949, finding Wall Street unappealing, he moved to 
Washington, DC, where he became an attorney with the National Labor 
Relations Board. This was where events found him in June 1950, when the 
North Koreans invaded South Korea and, as Colby recalled, suddentvJhe. 
entire situation was changed.”’ Having been approached by| 
a former OSS boss of his and now an officer in Frank Wisner's UPC, 
Colby joined that organization in November 1950 as a GS-I2. 

■‘Colby, Honorable Men, p. 35. 

^The leader of this particular maquis group turned out later to have been a German agent all 
along. As for military unorthodoxy, the leader of Colby’s parachute team was a French lieu- 
tenant; the second in command was Major Colby (Colby, Honorable Men, pp. 41 and 48). 
*In one case in which Colby participated, the opposing counsel was Frank Wisner, an ex-OSS 
officer and, by coincidence, soon to be the first chief of OPC and Colby’s first boss in CIA. 
^Colby, Honorable Men, p. 76. 


William E. Colby 

Colby recalls that in 1950 
joining the CIA was a glamorous, 
esteemed, and patriotic thing to 
do. He later wrote that in those 
days the Agency attracted bright, 
politically liberal men and women 
from the finest Ivy League cam- 
puses. These were vigorous young 
people with adventuresome spirits 
who believed fervently that the 
Communist threat had to be met 
aggressively, innovatively, and 
courageously, while at the same 
time rejecting Senator Joseph 
McCarthy’s demagogy. As Colby 
later phrased it, ‘Tn fact, it can 
quite accurately be said that the 
CIA at that time was perceived as 
the high-quality, liberal vehicle in 
the fight against both Communism 
and McCarthyism.”* Twenty-three 

Major Colby in Norway, 1945 

years later, however, by the time Colby became DCI, the climate had radi- 
cally changed, and the now-vast CIA organization he headed had become 
an object of widespread suspicion. Colby’s degree of success in improving 
this situation would depend importantly on his character, his goals, and his 

Colby’s Makeup 

To many, Colby’s makeup has remained elusive, and descriptions of 
him differ widely.^ Some believe him to be a decent, courageous, broad- 
minded officer, a man of total integrity. Others, citing his major role in the 
PHOENIX program in Vietnam, regard him as a murderer, or believe that 
in other circumstances he might have been “a perfect Stalinist.”’® Some 
have characterized Colby’s willingness to come clean with Congress as 
virtually treasonous, and others regard this as commendable, or at least the 
most realistic course Colby could have taken under the circumstances. 
Some considered him incapable of compromise; others found him more 
flexible. Some found him distant; others mentioned his willingness to 

“Colby, Honorable Men, p. 77. 

See representative characterizations of Colby at appendix B. 

'°Colby interview by Fallaci, 7 March 1976. 



Colhy the Man 

, ^mninvpe who had a grievance to discuss, a willingness to 

wandered into his .offiee Sotne 

considered him a cold fish, whereas others found him inwardly a fair y 
™ Dcrson. someone who was merely outwardly reserved. 

There nonetheless has been general agreement concerning certain 
asuects of Colby’s makeup. One is that he was essentially a oner. Even 
Sugh Richard Helms respected him as a clandestine operauons office 
id Ssisted him in his career, Colby never became a meinber of CIAs 
“nerclub of mandarins-such as Helms himself, Tracy Barnes, John 
Brass Kermit Roosevelt, James Angleton, Bronson Tweedy, and Lawrence 
Houston. Nor did Colby ever receive the esteem and warmth within the 

^“^“puSiSSy om of sympathy with the kind of 
gence service Helms epitomized, Colby was never quite accepted ^ 
officers’ inner circle. He was a doer, impatient with the caution and pains- 
taking procedures of intelligence collection. Much of his *3^ 3*'^^ 
concerned East Asia, rather than Soviet affairs, the he^ of clandestine 
operations. Moreover, for years he had been heavily involved m cow^ ac- 
tivities rather than in espionage, which CIA’s establishment considered to 

be the queen of the service. a ir. 

Mother aspect of Colby’s makeup on which most agree (as reflated m 

the observations in appendix B) is that he tended to be all busmess and fairly 
colorless; or. as one author described his fictional counterpart, m innocent look- 
ing little man with spectacles, someone who resembled a Xerox copy of a 
mn-and, when angered, “a Xerox of a Xerox.”" Most observers, however, 
have acknowledged Colby’s imaginativeness, prodipous energy, and Ws^ 
They have also acknowledged his administrative skills, while noting that he 
sometimes undercut those skills by a penchant for micromanagementi Many 
have also given him credit for having had good intentions, but question his high 
expectations and some of the ways he chose to advance those aims. 

Three additional characteristics of Colby’s makeup stand out to inany 
observers: stubbornness, inscrutability, and. at heart, affinity for the role of 
soldier-priest. One insightful view of Colby can be found in a poll &at 
Directorate of Operations (DO) officer David A. Phillips took in 1977 
among some 11 senior CIA alumni who had worked closely with one or 
more of five DCIs. PhiUips found that when asked which Da one would 
want as an effective companion in a perilous situation on a desert islanm tom 
each (counting Phillips’s own vote) chose Colby, Richard HeMs, a^ John 
McCone — with no votes for VAdm. William Rabom or Allen Dulles. 
Given a pleasant, nonprecarious situation, however, where one womd w^t an 
easy, stimulating companion on a desert island, six chose Dulles, ve e 
and one John McCone— with no votes for Vice Admiral Rabom or Colby. 

"David A. Phillips, The Night Watch: 25 Years of Peculiar Service (New York: Atheneum, 

1977), pp. 244-245. „ ,, 

’’-Aaron Latham. Orchids for Mother (Boston: Little. Brown and Company 1977), p. 17. 
Latham’s novel has characters closely modeled on William Colby and James J. Angleton. 
’’Phillips, The Night Watch, p. 280. 

William E, Colby 

Colby’s Goals 

Colby’s earlier experiences before he joined CIA in 1950 left certs 
lasting imprints on him that directly influenced his later conduct 
Dkector of Central Intelligence. These experiences, he states, tempered h 
initial liberalism, deepened his Catholicism, and instilled in him a lawyer 
approach to and respect for legality. After joining, he became convince 
that technology was revolutionizing the intelligence business, rendering ol 
solete many traditional modes of CIA’s thought and practice. By 1973 h 
was also convinced that CIA’s culture was too inbred, elitist, and separate 
from the outside world. Meanwhile, he had become convinced that the siti 
ation in Vietnam could only be remedied over the long term through a wis 
combination of village-centered political and paramilitary activity and tha 
the situation there consisted basically of a race between America’s growing 
revulsion for the war and South Vietnam’s ability to defend itself. Ever 
though he was satisfied that the PHOENIX program he had headed ir 
Vietnam had been, as he phrased it, “Well within moral limits,”'^ by the 
time he became DCI, he had concluded that changing circumstances in the 
United States — in CIA activities, the public mood, and the fate of the 
country — necessitated new and m‘ore open behavior on the part of the 
President’s Director of Central Intelligence. 

Central to Colby’s approach once he became Director was a profound 
certainty that there must be a “new” CIA that would be much more forth- 
coming in its relationships with the Congress and the American public. 
He believed strongly that such a course was necessary: first, because US 
intelligence had to be more accountable to the American constitutional 

'"a major question for historians in assessing Colby, but one outside the compass of this 
particular study of his tenure as DCI. will remain that of his conduct and defense of the 
PHOENDC program, a joint US-South Vietnamese effort that sought to destroy the Viet 
Cong’s political apparatus in the South. Suffice it to say, his PHOENIX experience remained 
a detriment to Colby throughout his subsequent US Government career and— as discussed in 
later chapters of this study — tended to undercut positive emphases he attempted as DCI to 
give US intelligence. See also Colby, Honorable Men, p. 276. 

'’The paragraphs that follow, highlighting the views Colby held, are based principaUy on the 
following: US Congress, Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Hearing, Nomination of 
William E. Colby to be Director of Central Intelligence, 93d Cong., 1st sess., 2, 20, and 25 
July 1973 (hereafter cited as Colby, DCI Nomination Hearing, 1973); William Colby,’ address 
to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, 3 May 74, as cited in the Congressional Record, 
14 May 1974, E2966-E2967; William Colby, transcript of address to the Commonwealth Club 
of California, San Francisco, 7 May 1975; William Colby, transcript of interview, “Meer the 
Press,'' NBC network, WRC television, Washington, DC, 29 June 1975; William Colby tran- 
senpt of interview by Paul Duke, WETA television, Washington, DC, 13 December *1975; 
William Colby, transcript of interview by Daniel Schorr, CBS network, WTOP television 
Washington, DC, 21 January 1976; all four filed in CXA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 1, folder 1, CIA Archives and Records Center; William Colby, “Modem 
Intelligence: Myth and Reality," New York Times Magazine, 3 August 1975* Colby 
Honorable Men; Colby interview by Fallaci, 7 March 1976; William Colby, interview by 
Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 2 March 1987 and 8 September 1988 (all 
the interviews by Ford in this study are in CIA History Staff job 90B00336R, box 4, folder 
54, CIA Archives and Records Center). 


Colby the Man 

. „ ,nH cvctem- and second, because such a course, by better educating 
Jte cSgrel the media, and the public about US intelligence, would call 

forth of the situation is what counts. For, 

him the political aspects of war and international competition were 
Inreme He believed that intelligence, bravery, and commitment are not 
Znoh and, if not accompanied by wisdom, then can lead to futile and 
fatafwastage. US intelligence, he concluded, must accordingly be 
broadened to avoid tunnel vision and parochial habit. The Intelligence 
Community must tap the wisdom of the finest experts, in and out 
of government. Intelligence must recognize that it has become ^ complex 
business for a complex world, an intellectual process demanding the fullest 

and most careful analysis. ..... j , 

Colby therefore believed that the Intelligence Community must adapt 
more effectively to the revolution that had occurred in intelligence collec- 
tion the gathering of information by high-tech means. And, to match 
advances in collection, he believed improvements must be made m intelli- 
gence management, as well as in the quality of intelligence estimates, anal- 
ysis and warning. In his view, the computer had now displaced the trench 
coat; operations officers must work much more closely with CIA’s analysts 
and technicians. Here Colby faced considerable opposition, because years 
of bureaucratic experience had created two proud, competing cultures. 
Former DCI James Schlesinger had also tried to break down this compart- 
mentalization, even though his view of the problem was less ideaUstic than 
was Colby’s. As Schlesinger later put it: 

You see you had two breeds of cat here. You had those people who had con- 
siderable experience who were not always very articulate. ... And then you 
had all of these other chaps who were in the DDI who had come o^^^f 
Amherst . . . and had gotten this “enlightened” view of the world. . . . The 
clandestine people regarded the intelligence analysts as kind of remote 
academics whom you never told anything and who weren’t worth very 
much. ... And then the intelligence analysts regarded the operators as 
distinctly lower in intelligence and containinated^by questionable activities that 
would never pass muster at Amherst or Vassar. 

Colby also foresaw a significant increase in the number and the 
nature of the policymaking consumers of intelligence. In his view, intelli- 
gence had to be broadened and made more sophisticated in order to serve 
new recipients in Congress, the Departments of Commerce and Treasury, 
military commanders in the field, friendly countries’ liaison services, the 
media, academia, and the public at large. 

'Tames R. Schlesinger, interview by J. Kenneth McDonald, tape recording, Washington, DC, 
2 March 1982 and 1 November 1982 (hereafter cited as Schlesinger interview by McDonald, 
2 March 1982 and 1 November 1982) (Sej^. Transcripts of interviews other than those by 
H. P. Ford are on file in the CIA History Staff. 


William E. Colby 

Colby perceived, moreover, that a number of unjustified and de- 
bilitating myths had arisen about US intelligence, and hence a credibility 
gap' had opened up concerning CIA, between what intelligence really was 
and how most Americans perceived it Colby wanted to reverse the grow- 
ing tendency to portray US intelligence as unconstitutional and improper. If 
those myths came to be belieyed, said Colby, “We can make our own mis- 
taken Aztec sacrifice — ^American intelligence — ^in the belief that only thus 
can the democratic sun of our free society rise.”‘^ To forestall this, he be- 
lieved, intelligence must clearly operate within the traditions of US society. 
To Colby, Congress’s rising interest in intelligence oversight was legiti- 
mate; that interest must hence be met by greater frankness concerning 
intelligence operations and budgets. American intelligence could no longer 
be divorced from the regular visible agencies of government US intelli- 
gence had to be responsible and accountable to the American people and 
their elected representatives, yet, at the same time provide essential serv- 
ices. Colby testified at his confirmation hearings that it was essential that 
the US intelligence service be run within “the American society and the 
American constitutional structure, and I can see that there may be a 
requirement to expose to the American people a great deal more than might 
be convenient from the narrow intelligence point of view.”'® 

Colby’s Attempts To Further His Goals 

Even before being sworn in as DCI, Colby attempted to set his theo- 
ries in motion. In May and June of 1973, he tasked the Agency’s 
Management Committee and the Office of Training (OTR) to come up with 
recommendations for fuller disclosure of intelligence to the public. Upon 
being named DCI-designate, his July appearances before the Senate Armed 
Services Committee were the first time any DCI confirmation hearings had 
been held in open session, though this was not so much due to Colby’s in- 
itiative as to the result of new pressures within the Senate for clarifying . the 
role the CIA had played in Southeast Asia and Watergate. Colby was not 
upset with such new openness. In fact, a week before he formally became 
DCI, Colby permitted the media to enter and film portions of CIA 
Headquarters at Langley, Virginia — the first time such a visit had ever been 
allowed. On that occasion he found, however, as he would often find sub- 
sequently, little reciprocal good will: journalist Bill Downs told his TV au- 
dience, “Driving through the nation’s most secure gate, the $50 million 
supersecret CIA Headquarters looks surprisingly like a well-kept pri- 
son. . . . The agency auditorium, sometimes used for cloak-and-dagger 

'’William Colby, as quoted in “Modern Intelligence; Myth and Reality,” The New York Times 
Magazine, 3 August 1975. 

Colby. DCI Nomination Hearing, 2 July 1973, 



Colby the Man 


briefings looks like' the top of an ice cream cone.” Downs did 
acknowledge that the American taxpayers’ CIA property was “in good 

condition. ^ , 

Colby also set out to expand the CIA’s practices of releasing unclassi- 
fied information to scholars and the general public. Such releases---almost 
ou nf fhp.m from the Agency’s Dir ectorate of Intelligence CBD — included 

' translations 

and summaries of selected foreign-language publications; reference-type 
handbooks (listings of chiefs of state, biographic directories, and the like); 
economic data handbooks; maps and atlases; and the CIA contributions to 
the reports of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress — the only type 
of released information entailing collation and significant analysis. 

In addition, Colby made himself and other CIA officers much more 
available for public appearances. This expanded contact with the public in- 
cluded briefings at CIA Headquarters of visiting college and high school 
students, briefings of visiting businessmen and private think tank person- 
nel, outside speakers invited to address OTR classes and CIA-wide 
audiences, substantive contacts with outside academic experts, and CIA 
employee participation in outside conferences and other academic events. 

From the outset, these efforts to open up CIA were seen as foolish 
and destructive by some of his CIA colleagues, especially those in the 
Directorate of Operations (DO), traditionally the seat of compartmentaliza- 
tion and secrecy. Certain senior DO officers looked on Colby s openness as 
irreconcilable with the DCFs traditional responsibility for protecting 

intelligence sources and methods. From among these many DO doubters, 
William Nelson and George Carver especially cautioned Colby in the early 
months of his DCI tenure. Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations and 
long a close colleague of Colby’s, wrote him: 

I believe it is almost impossible for the DCI to discuss operation^ matters 
including cover arrangements without inviting headlines and stories wMch 
seriously degrade the fabric of our security and, no matter what the original 
intent, lead inevitably to a further exposure of intelligence sources and 
methods by persons inside and outside the Agency who take their cue from 
the man directly charged with this responsibility." 

George Carver, Special Assistant for Vietnam Affairs when Colby 
, became DCI, later recalled that there had been a long and continuing run- 
ning battle between Colby and the Management Group over disclosures to 
Congress. The Group’s view, which Carver shared, was that many of the 
critics Colby was trying to educate didn’t understand the issues and weren’t 
CIA’s friends anyway; therefore, his efforts would prove self-defeating. 

Downs, WMAL radiobroadcast, Washington, DC, 27 August 1973. 

■’“William Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, Memorandum for William Colby, DCI, 
“Statements to the Press,” 4 March 1974, CIA History St aff re cords, job 90B00336R, box 1, 
folder 1 , CIA Archives and Records Center i iij, I 

■'George Carver, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Wasfungton, DC, 2 December 1987 
(hereafter cited as Carver interview, 2 December 1987) (Con^d^wtiSfl. 

William E. Colby 


From the beginning, Colby was caught between opposite demands 
that would mark much of his tenure as Director: the pressing need, as he 
saw it, to change some of CIA’s traditional practices versus the difficult 
task of selling new practices to the doubters within the CIA. In trying to 
square this circle, Colby underestimated the problems his greater openness 
would create, not only within the CIA, but outside as well where, as 
Carver and others had predicted, Colby’s disclosures were in many cases 
treated sensationally rather than as indicators that a new DCI was set upon 
reforming US intelligence. 

For two years or so, Colby did not succeed in materiaUy expanding the 
release of intelligence data, despite his attachment to greater openness. Before 
then his results had been fairly slight. Indeed, a later study of Agency efforts 
to influence public attitudes concluded in April 1975 that the impact of these 
efforts had been “at best marginal” and that “the total current CIA program to 
inform the American public can only be regarded as exceedingly modest” 
By and large, significant Agency openness did not occur until the full force of 
the Congressional investigations hit Colby later in 1975. 

The results Colby gained from his openness proved mixed. As subse- 
quent chapters speU out, his more forthcoming practice won him respect m 
many circles and — over the longer term — some heightened Congressional 
support of CIA. But much continuing general uneasiness about the Agency 
was to continue, as was much abiding criticism of Colby from within CIA. 

^Office of Training study, ‘‘CIA Activities Contributing, to Public Understanding of 
Intelligence and the CIA,” April 1975, attachment to John F. Blake, Deputy Director of 
Administration, Memorandum for Secretary, CIA 

Relations— Management Committee Action— 96/A,” 21 May 1975, CIA Hist^ Staff- 
records job 90B00336R, box i, folder 1, CIA Archives and Records Center (S^p»<?r 


Chapter 2 

The Troubled Setting 

What the hell do those clowns do out there in Langley? 

Richard M. Nixon, 1970* 

After his May 1973 nomination as Director of Central Intelligence, 
Colby faced an inhospitable setting. Numerous constraints severely re- 
stricted his area of maneuver and his prospects for success. In ascending 
order of confining influence, these included a long initial period of ambig- 
uous DCI authority, resistance to Colby’s proposed reforms, public and 
Congressional suspicions of CIA and Colby, and, most important, a sorely 
beset President who held CIA in disdain and who intended to have US in- 
telligence run from the White House. 

Between the time President Nixon nominated Colby on 9 May 1973 and 
the time he finally became DCI on 4 September 1973, Colby’s authority tvas 
uncertain. For nine weeks after Colby was nominated. Director James 
Schiesinger remained at CIA before leaving to become Secretary of Defense on 
2 July. During that interim period, firom May to July, Colby continued as the 
Agency’s Deputy Director for Operations and Schlesinger’s right-hand man.^ 
After Schiesinger departed, nine more weeks passed before Colby was con- 
.firmed by the Senate. During this interim, authority at Langley was shared be- 
tween the DCI-designate and the Acting DCI, DDCI Vernon Walters. Even 
though Colby considered their personal relationship an easy one, with neither of 
them caring “who was working for whom,” this situation hampered Colby’s 
ability to quickly set his desired new initiatives in motion.^ 

‘Statement to then Secretary of State William Rogers, after CIA had provided no warning that 
Cambodia’s Gen, Lon Nol was about to overthrow Prince Sihanouk Norodom (Richard 
Nixon, RN, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon [New York; Grosset and Dunlap, 1978], p. 447). 
‘During those weeks Schiesinger vested special responsibilities in Colby, who began to cata- 
logue questionable past CIA activities (the “family jewels”), to cancel several dubious CIA 
operations, and to institute a new system to replace the long-established Office of National 
Estimates (see chapter 4). 

^William Colby, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 3 February 
1987 (hereafter cited as Colby interview by Ford, 3 February 1987) (Sep^fi. 

William E. Colby 


From the outset, the 
DCI-designate was also caught be- 
tween conflicting demands that 
would mark much of his tenure as 
Director. Although he recognized 
the pressing need to change some 
of CIA’s traditional practices, he 
confronted the difficult task of 
selling this new, more open course 
to doubters in and out of CIA who 
considered this course irreconcil- 
able with the DCFs traditional 
responsibilities for protecting in- 
telligence sources and methods. 

Colby’s chances of success 
were also constrained by his 
becoming DCI at a time when, 
after years of relative quiescence 
on the part of Congress, consider- 
able sentiment had begun to grow 
for much fuller oversight of 
CIA, rising out of Congressional 
concern that an unchecked CIA had conducted various iUegal activities. At the 
time, suspicions focused principally on whether CIA had participated in the 
White House’s 1970 Huston Plan for mounting intelligence operations against 
American citizens within the United States, whether CIA had conducted a 
“secret war” in Laos, whether it had been involved in Watergate, and whether it 
had contributed to the overthrow and death of Chilean President Salvador 

During the months in which Colby was gearing up to become 
’ Director, several longtime senior Congressional friends of CIA began to 
call for special investigations of the Agency. These mandarins included 
Senator John Stennis (D-MS), chairman of the Senate Armed Services 
Subcommittee on Intelligence; Senator John McClellan (D-AR), chairman 
of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense s Subcomimttee on 
Intelligence Operations; and Representative Lucien Nedzi (D-MI), chair- 
man of the House Armed Services Special Subcommittee on Intelligence. 
Then, at his confirmation hearings, Colby ran into a barrage of hostile 
questions, not only about alleged CIA illegalities in general, but also 
about his own role as the former director of the much-criticized PHOENIX 

James R. Schle singer 

The Troubled Setting 

program in Vietnam. During those hearings, he was charged with having 
been evasive, unresponsive, and dishonest years ago in Vietnam in briering 
visiting Members of Congress about the PHOENIX program and his 
relationship to it/ 

Colby’s mixed welcome in his confirmation hearings presaged the 
somewhat distant relationship he was to have with Congress, especially in 
contrast with that which former DCI Richard Heims enjoyed. Helms had 
achieved considerable success in nursing close contacts with key members 
of Congress. By contrast, Colby’s more reserved personality and his previ- 
ous leadership of the PHOENIX program tended to restrict his influence 
with a Congress already concerned about burgeoning allegations of CIA 

The greatest difficulty that Colby faced as he became DCI, however, 
was the hostility Nixon and Kissinger bore toward CIA — a mixture of ani- 
mus and legitimate concern over its capabilities, especially its ability to 
provide adequate warning of impending crises. This hostility, combined 

^Colby, DCI Nomination Hearing. During these hearings, Colby was sharply questioned by 
committee members Symington, Nunn, and Hughes, and by guest Senators Kennedy and 
Proxmire. The most serious charges, however, were voiced by guest Congressman Robert 
Drinan. At the committee’s hearing on 20 July 1973, Drinan berated Colby for having misled 
him and his visiting colleagues in Vietnam, in June 1969, when they had questioned Colby 
about the PHOENIX program. Senator Stuart Symington also privately told CIA’s Legislative 
Counsel, John Maury, that Representative Drinan felt that Colby had given him “false and 
misleading statements about PHOENIX.” (John Maury, Legislative Counsel, Memorandum 
for the Record, “Discussion with Senator Symington, Acting Chairman, Senate Armed 
Services Committee, re Mr. Colby’s Confirmation Hearing,” 18 July 1973,- CIA History_Staff 
records, job 90BdO336R, box 1, CIA Archives and Records Center 

William E. Colby 

— Se^U-. 

with Henry Kissinger’s imperious style, sharply limited the influence 
Colby could have on foreign policy counsels at the apex of intelligence 
purpose and greatly constrained his effectiveness as DCL 

President Nixon’s nomination of Colby as DC! took place not only as pait 
of a Presidential shuffling of senior government figures in May 1973 that 
moved Schlesinger to Defense, but within a broader setting of sharply growing 
Watergate pressures on Mr. Nixon. That gathering political storm had reached 
such proportions that, on 30 April 1973, less than two weeks before he nomi- 
nated Colby, the President had dismissed three of his closest colleagues: H. R. 
Haldeman, John Ehiiichman, and Attorney General Richard KleindiensL By the 
end of October, less than two months after Colby had become DCI, Vice 
President Spiro Agnew departed in disgrace, and President Nixon — in what 
came to be termed his “Halloween Massacre” — suddenly dismissed Special 
Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and 
Richardson’s deputy, William Ruckelshaus. 

Watergate had earlier had a chilling effect on CIA-White House rela- 
tionships when DCI Helms had withstood Presidential pressures to abet the 
coverup of this scandal. For the most part, Colby was simply an heir to that 
legacy; nonetheless, its disruptive effects during his term as DCI were con- 
siderable. Not only were Congress, the media, and the public suspicious 
that CIA had been heavily involved in Watergate, but the President was 
still angry at CIA for not having been so. As George Carver graphically 
described this situation, years later, Nixon had been “pissed off” at Helms 
and DDCI Vernon Walters for not having played ball on Watergate and for 
not helping the White House bail itself out.^ 

In addition to his abiding anger at the Agency for not having played 
Watergate patsy for the White House in 1972, Nixon blamed CIA for his 
defeat in the 1960 presidential election. In his view, CIA had withheld cer- 
tain sensitive intelligence from Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy that 
would have undercut Kennedy’s incorrect but politically potent charges 
that Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon had permitted a “missile gap” to 
open up between the strategic weapons capabilities of the USSR and the 
United States. According to former DCI Helms, speaking years later, Nixon 
“really believed, and I think he believes to this day, that the ‘missile gap’ 
question was the responsibility of the Agency and that it did him in.”^ In 
George Carver’s view, Nixon had a lot of residual heartburn from his view 
that CIA was a nest of liberals who had “screwed him out of the 1960 elec- 

^George Carver, interview by Harold R Ford, sununary notes, Washington, IX, 12 Febraaiy 1987 
(hereafter cited as Carver interview by Ford, 12 February 1987) 

Richard Helms, interview by R. Jack Smith, tape recording, Washington, DC, 21 April 1982 
(hereafter cited as Helms interview, by Smith, 21 April 1982) (Segjat). 

’Carver interview by Ford, 12 February 1987. 

The Troubled Setting 


Indeed, Nixon felt strongly that CIA contained too many softies. 

As Nixon told chief aide H. R. Haldeman, months before nominating 
Colby as DCI: 

The first problem is that the CIA is . . . primarily Ivy League and the 
Georgetown set rather than the type of people we get in the service and the 
FBI. I want a study made immediately as to how many people in CIA could 
be removed by Presidential action. . . . Of course the reduction in force 
should be accomplished solely on the ground of its being necessary for 
budget reasons, but you will both know the real reason and I want some 
action to deal with the problem.® 

Nixon and Kissinger were dissatisfied not only with CIAs personnel but 
with its practices. In their view CIA was overstaffed, too expensive, underex- 
perienced, and not sufficiendy alert to the worldwide Communist threat. In par- 
ticular, they had had shaip differences with CIA in 1969 over whether the 
Soviets were intent upon MIRVmg their giant SS-9 ICBMs, and hence whether 
the US Minuteman ICBM system would soon be threatened. Nixon had taken a 
keen personal interest in the MIRV-ABM question and believed that US intelli- 
gence estimates were seriously underestimating the USSR s progress there. 
Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) historian Donald E. 
Welzenbach holds that Kissinger hoped “to prove that the Minuteman shield 
was threatened by the Soviets.” Kissinger needed this credible threat, 
Welzenbach contends, in order to justify development of the ABM system 
which he wanted to use as a bargaining chip in the forthcoming SALT negotia- 
tions.‘° The CIA had stubbornly held that the SS-9s were not being MIRVed. 
The fact that the Agency’s view proved accurate did little to abate White House 
hostility toward CIA. 

The National Intelligence Estimates were, per se, a major sore point 
with Nixon and Kissinger. In their view, these products were wishy-washy, 
ambiguous, lacking in alternative judgments and possible outcomes, and 
based on an oversimplified model of the Soviet Government as a single 
unified actor. Moreover, according to the White House, CIA’s analysts and 
estimators seemed unaware of the purposes of the administration s foreign 
policies and of the many other sources of information available to the 

'Presidential note to Haldeman, 18 May 1972, as cited in Bruce Oudes. ed„ Richard Nixon's 
Secret Files (New York: Harper and Row, 1989), p. 448, 

’See Top Secret documentation in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Matcnals Project, 
Alexandria, Virginia (hereafter cited as Nixon Materials), box 275, NSC files/ Agency files. 
'“Donald Welzenbach, History of the Directorate of Science and Technology, J 970- 1 983, 
September 1987, II-9. (Portions of this study are Top Secret/Compartmented, on file in the 
Office of the DDS&.T.) See also H. P. Ford’s notes on this study, in CIA Hist^Staff records, 
job 90B00336R, box I, folder 2, CIA Archives and Records Center During the 

course of the MIRV quarrel in 1969, a Cabinet member (Defense Secretary Melvin Laird) 
had for the first time openly sought to force a DCI (Richard Helms ) to change an intelligence 
estimate’s judgments that an administration found uncongenial. 


William E. Colby 

Presidency. In short, Nixon and Kissinger believed that intelligence esti* 
mates were not sufficiently relevant to policy issues and were of very little 
use to top policymakers. “ 

Nixon was also angiy at the CLk for intelligence estimates it had provided 
the White House on the Vietnam war that had direcdy challenged Nixon’s and 
Kissinger’s views. For example, CIA flatly contradicted administration claims 
that the 1970 incursion into Cambodia would greatly depress Communist capa- 
bilities in South Vietnam and that US bombing of the Ho Chi Mmh Trail was 
severely hampering North Vietnamese logistic support of the Viet Cong. More 
important, some of the Agency’s judgments concerning the war had proved seri- 
ously wrong. In particular, CIA had grossly underestimated the degree to which 
the Cambodian port of Sihaiioukville was being used as a funnel for Communist 
supply of arms to the Viet Cong. The Nixon archives indicate that the White 
House investigated this particular inteOigence failure in some detail and that 
senior officials there had recommended appropriate personnel changes at C1A.‘^ 

Kissinger’s NSC assistant for intelligence, Andrew W. Marshall, passed 
on many of the White House’s criticisms to Colby the day after he became DCL 
According to Marshall, US intelligence was not showing any specific compe- 
tence for producing products of the sort that might be of value to top-level deci- 
sionmakers in addressing major policy problems. Furthermore, since many if 
not most — intelligence officers in State and the CIA did not share the world 
view of top US military leaders, these differences in fundamental assumptions, 
Marshall explained, might be one of “the most important barriers preventing US 
intelligence from adequately supporting top-level decisionmaking,” 

Colby had other problems as well. In an earlier— and unsuccessful- 
attempt to improve US intelligence, Nixon’s principal lieutenant had been 
Colby’s immediate predecessor, James Schlesinger, a Nixon confidant and 
now, as Secretary of Defense, controller of the bulk of US intelligence as- 
sets, budgets, and personnel. In March 1971, at Nixon s request, 
Schlesinger (then Assistant Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget [OMB]), had produced a searching criticism of the Intelligence 

"The Nixon archives contain many such criticisms, couched at times in very strong language, 
by President Nixon, Kissinger, Andrew W. Marshall (at the time Kissinger’s chief lieutenant 
for intelligence matters in the NSC staff), and other senior White House officials (sec Top 
Secret examples in Nixon Materials, box 285, NSC files/name files; box 360, NSC 
files/subject files; and box 275, NSC files/Agency files). Years later, Nixon still held that the 
CIA had been guilty of “disastrously” underestimating the number of ICBMs the Soviets 
would deploy: “Thanks in part to this intelligence blunder, we will find ourselves looking 
down the nuclear barrel in the mid-1980’s” (Nixon, Memoirs, p. 262). 

’“See Top Secret documentation in Nixon Materials, box 276, NSC files/Agency files. 
‘^Andrew W. Marshall, National Security Council, Memorandum for William Colby, Dhector 
of Central Intelligence, no subject given, 5 September 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box I, folder 2, CIA Archives and Records Center Andrew W. 

Marshall, National Security Council, Memorandum for William Colby, DCI, “Areas for 
Discussion,” 21 May 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 16, CIA 
Archives and Records Center 




The Troubled Setting 

Community. He had then found “gross redundancies" in collection, raw 
intelligence serving as a proxy for improved inference an^d^ estimates, and 
analvsis “the stepchild of the Intelligence Community.’ His findings, 
somewhat capsulated, became a seven-page Presidential directive of 
s November 1971. This directive ordered that the Schlesinpr recommenda- 
tions be carried out “urgently”; that the DCI delegate direct apftority to 
the DDCI for CIA’s day-to-day operations, so that the DCI could concen- 
trate on directing the Intelligence Community; and that a new ^ite House 
body a National Security Council Intelligence Committee (NSCIC), be 
formed under the chairmanship of — guess who Henry pssinger. CIA 
files indicate that Colby treated this Presidential order as his central direc- 
tive in attempting to improve US intelligence. ^ ^ 

Especially significant for Colby as the incoming DCI m 1973 was 
Nixon’s view that the Intelligence Community’s response to these 1971 
directives had left much to be desired. The then DCI, Richard Helms, felt 
strongly that the President’s order gave the DCI responsibilities beyond 
Dowers he actually possessed or realistically could be expected to gam. 
Llms believed that a DQ could not tell a Secretary of Defense what the 
latter could do with his budget Therefore, in Helms’s view, Mr. Nixon s 
directive was from the outset “a nonstarter”; whatever progress a DCI 
sained in these respects would have to come through persuasion, not 
force majeure"'^ Accordingly, Helms had not pushed too hard. Although 
he did establish an Intelligence Community, he did not attempt to have it 
make recommendations on budgetary allocations; rather, he simply gave 
the White House the Views of the individual intelligence components. 

Nixon’s creation of a new NSC Intelligence Community Committee 
also produced little improvement. For four years Andrew Marshall s 
Community staff worked on various possible improvements but in the end 
achieved very modest results. The parent NSCIC body met only twice m its 

"A Review of the IntelUgence Community (originany '‘AfTr.”*!? 

(on file in the office of Chief. CIA History StafO- In 1970-71 then 0MB officer James Taylor 
(who later became CIA's Executive Director. 1984-89) played a central staff rNe m assistmg 
Schlesinger prepare his critique and was decorated for this service. From 0MB in 1975 
Taylor wrote Colby that, in drawing up Schlesinger’s 1971 report on US intelligence, there 
had been “discussion about how one could create more divers ty of view within the produc- 
tion community instead of the ‘lowest common denormnator product which Marehall and 
apparently some elements of the National Security Council Aen belmved they were 
receiving” (James Taylor. Office of Management and B“dg=t. Memorandum for 
Colby, TOO, subject not given. 6 March 1975, CIA Hist ory Staff records, job 90B00336R. 
box U folder 2, aA Archives and Records Center iUllllfidi ^ xt • i 

‘*Thcse directives of President Nixon also provided for the creation of a unified National 
Cryptologic Command under the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), a single 
Office of Defense Investigations, and a consolidated Defense Mapping Agency, ^r ^e cen- 
trality to Colby of Nixon’s 1971. directives, see the following: Williarn Colby DCI, lettCT to 
Henry A. Kissinger. Assistant to the President for National Secunty Affans 19 September 1973 
William Colby, DCI, letter to President Nixon, n. d. (Unclassified); President Nixon, 
lettCT to William Colby. DCI, 29 June 1974 (Unclassified); CIA History Staff records, job 
90B0d336R, box I, folder 2. CIA Archives and Records Center. ^ ^ 

'“Richard M. Helms, interview by John Brass, tape reconfing, Washington, DC, 14 December 1982 
(hereafter cited as Helms interview by Bross, 14 December 1982) (Sggl^- 


William E. Colby 

lifetime (late 1971 to 1975), produced nothing of consequence and in the 
end simply atrophied.'" Kissinger, the NSCIC’s chairman, prefeired to in- 
fluence US intelligence through more informal, personal means — a practice 
he continued throughout Colby’s tenure as DCI. 

In fact, from the outset of his Presidency in 1969, Mr. Nixon had 
moved to reduce the DGI s authority and to give Dr. Kissinger and the 
NSC staff added influence over the Intelligence Community. DCI influence 
steadily declined. According to R. Jack Smith, CIAs Deputy Director for 
Intelligence (DDI) when Nixon and Kissinger took office, ‘‘It was just as 
though the shades in the White House were pulled down ail of a sud- 
den. . . . They [Nixon and Kissinger] were antagonistic right from the 
outset,”'" According to Helms, by the time Colby became DCI in 1973, 
President Nixon had brought all control of intelligence matters into the 
White House, so that he could have more power over “the vast, sprawling 
bureaucracy he so distrusted.” In this way, said Helms, President Nixon 
could control the government through the people that “were beholden to 
him, known to him, and believed loyal to him; and he wanted to get rid of 
anybody around that didn’t fit into that particular pattern.”'® 

The Nixon/Kissinger attitude was not lost on CIA officials. In March 
1973 a CIA Management Advisory Group reported that “there is consider- 
able feeling within the analytical components that the Agency has suffered 
a loss of impact with those officials who make national policy.”"® This is 
also clearly reflected in Nixon’s and Kissinger’s own memoirs. Nixon does 

”This is the view, as well, of Maj. Gen. Jack E. Thomas. USAF (Ret.), who served as 
, Kissinger’s NSCIC He noted, just two years after Nixon’s November 

1971 directive, that the NSCIC had thus far met only once and that “A total of six actions 
have been submitted to the Chairman. NSQC (Kissinger), all of which called for some 
response. To date no formal reply has been received to any of the six action requests” (Jack 
Thomas, Memorandum for the Record. “NSCIC Record on Action Requests,” 5 November 
1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1. CIA Archives and Records Center 
Thomas still holds the view, years later, that the NSCIC achieved nothing; it simply 
wasn t Kissinger’s style (Jack E. Thomas, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes 
Washingto n, DC . 28 January 1987 [hereafter cited as Thomas interview by Fcad, 28 January 19871 
friiiiriiiiiiii irn •* 

' R. Jack Smith statement to John Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA 
(New York: Simon and Schuster. 1986). p. 499. 

^Helms. interview by Bross, 14 December 1982 

" Management Advisory Group, Memorandum for the Deputy Director for Support, “Agency 
Esprit,” 1 March 1973, CIA History Staff. records, job 90B00336R, box I, folder 2 CIA 
Archives and Records Center At the same time, Nixon and Kissinger were also 

reducing Ray S. Cline’s influence as Director of the Department of State’s Bureau of 
Intelligence and Research (ENR). In October 1973, after Kissinger shut him out of certain 
sensitive information during the Middle East war, Cline resigned in protest. According to 
Uine, “crucial mtelhgcnce was often suppressed to ensure that only Nixon and Kissinger had the 
full body of information on which to make broad judgments. The whole interagency 
bureaucracy was emasculated to provide a monopoly of power for the White House” (Ray Cline 
The CIA Under Reagan, Bush and Casey [Washington, DC: Acropolis Press, 1981], p. 242)’ 

The Troubled Setting 

not refer to CIA at all after the year 1971 and makes only two brief refer- 
ences to Colby, and Kissinger does not mention Colby in the first volume 
of his memoirs (to early 1973) and in the second volume makes only pass- 
ing references to Colby, without evaluating him or his role as DCI.^ 

The changes Nixon and Kissinger desired constituted more than just 
an aggrandizement of their influence over intelligence. They sought a sig- 
nificant change in the very purposes of intelligence. As Andrew Marshall 
put it to Colby at the outset of his DCI tenure, intelligence must do far 
more in assisting policymakers to exert pressure on foreign governments: 
the administration wanted CIA to give it new insights into the specific 
weaknesses of given countries — ^that is, knowledge of their internal poli- 
tics, perceptions, and policymaking styles — so that the White House could 
then “enhance the threats we make, to practice effective deception and 
other psychological operations against them.*'^ 

Unfortunately, these White House aims to maximize US intelligence 
did not match the CIA’s capabilities as Colby found them when he became 
DCI. Nixon and Kissinger seemed to want to restore the Agency to its 
previous character as the activist leading edge of US covert political action 
in the world. Yet for several years before 1973, the CIA had been slowly 
assuming a quieter, more prudent style of activity. Moreover, top foreign 
affairs practitioners for the White House were themselves extremely 
knowledgeable about the world and had shut CIA officers out of much 
privileged intelligence possessed by Nixon and Kissinger. That Colby him- 
self epitomized the CIA’s new manner accentuated the gulf between the ad- 
ministration’s wishes and CIA’s ability, at least as of mid- 1973, to further 
the White House’s operational wishes. 

In view of the unpromising situation Colby inherited, the new DCI 
from the outset had a very difficult time making his voice heard in White 
House councils. In no way did be become a member of the administration’s 
inner team. He rarely saw Nixon and for the most part had to deal with 
Kissinger or Kissinger’s lieutenants. A career CIA professional, Colby did 
not enter office with much, if any, outside political influence. His own cer- 
tainty that US intelligence must become more open was antithetical to 
Nixon’s and Kissinger’s style. It was Kissinger, not Colby, who was 

■'Nixon, Memoirs. 

Henry A. Kissinger, Years of Upheaval (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1982). 
Although Colby was Executive Director under Helms, he was not a key CIA figure until after 
James Schlesinger became DCI in February 1973. 

Andrew Marshall, National Security Council, Enclosure to Memorandum for William 
Colby, Director of Central Intelligence, subject not given, 5 September 1973, (emphasis in 
the original) CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 2, QA Archives and 
Records Center (Secj^eT, 

William E. Colby 

Nixon’s primary intelligence adviser, combining in himself the functions of 
Secretary of State, chief NSC policy adviser, and director of American 

Colby’s influence with the White House was further limited when 
Kissinger named one of his own proteges, William Hyland, to head State s 
INR. A very able officer, Hyland had been an expert on the USSR in CIA’s 
Office of National Estimates and then an NSC staffer under Kissinger. 
Now, as head of. INR, William Hyland accompanied Kissinger to key meet- 
ings in Moscow and elsewhere. In addition, as revealed in the Nixon 
archives, Hyland was present at a number of top decisionmaking meetings 
at the White House from which Colby was excluded. A year after Colby 
became DCI, journalist William Binder wrote in The New York Times that a 
State Department official had told him that, because of INR s analytic 
production for the White House, “when Kissinger says Bill is doing a 
great job,’ he is usually referring to Hyland and not to Colby.”^^ 

Why then did Nixon select Colby to be the new DCI? In naming 
Colby, the beleaguered President apparently wished to demonstrate that he 
was choosing a professional, one untainted by Watergate. While serving as 
CIA’s Executive Director under Schlesinger, Colby had demonstrated that 
he had broad vision and wished to bring about constructive intelligence re- 
form. The White House was not willing to name the highly talented DDCI, 
Lt. Gen. Vernon Walters, as DCI because of his earlier refusal, along with 
DCI Helms, to go along with the Watergate coverup. Kissinger’s deputy at 
the NSC, Alexander Haig, recommended that Colby be named DCI, as did 
DCI Schlesinger, In all, Nixon and his aides appear to have believed that in 
naming Colby they would be getting a quiet bureaucrat, a team player who 
would give the White House little trouble. 

It is Colby’s recollection that, because the administration was changing so 
many jobs at the time they nominated him, “by the time they got down to the 
end of that string, they were running out of names; so what the hell, I was there, 
I was an intelligence professional, nonpolitical.” According to George Carver, 
Colby was picked almost instantaneously, there were no other candidates, the 

^‘‘One of the sharpest (and most unfair) portrayals of Colby and his status as DCI was made 
in March 1974 by journalist Tad Szulc, who wrote that the White House was tending to 
regard Colby merely as an efficient intelligence bureaucrat, and that it was hard to think of 
him as the real chief of the Intelligence Community in the sense that Allen Dulles had been: 
“There seem to be no giants nowadays in the spying business,” he wrote. “It has been 
touched by the age of mediocrity, too” (Tad Szulc, “Inside the American Intelligence 
Establishment,” Washingtonian, March 1974, pp. 55-56). 

-'William Binder, The New Yo rk Times, 17 J une 1974, 

-•William Colby, interview by I | tape recording. Washington, DC, 15 March 1988 

(hereaft er cited as Colby interview by | | 15 March 1988) All interviews by 

I kre on file in the CIA History Stim 

The Troubled Setting 


Colby, Barbara Colby, Judge George Hart, U,S. District Court for the 
District of Columbia. Second row: Adm. Thomas Moorer, Secretary of State 
Henry Kissinger, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger. 

White House had no obvious DCI up its sleeve, therefore, it was not so 
much a case of selecting a DCI as it was simply putting Bill Colby 
bureaucratically in place.^’ It is Ray Cline’s belief that the White House 
looked on Bill Colby as a kind of errand boy picked by Schlesinger, some- 
one just to hold the fort."® 

In the end, President Nixon did get a quiet bureaucrat But he also 
got a tough, stubborn officer whose particular initiatives concerning the 
proper role the DCI and CIA should play in American politics and society 
were to give Nixon and his successor, President Gerald Ford, considerable 

■’Carver interview by Ford, 12 February 1987. 

“Ray Cline, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington. DC, 31 March 1988 
(hereafter cited as Cline interview by Ford, 31 March 1988) 



Chapter 3 

The Yom Kippur War of October 1973 

A thorough search of the material issued prior to 6 October [Egypt’s and 
Syria’s sudden attacks on Israel] has failed to turn up any official statement 
from any office or committed officer responsible for producing finished, ana- 
lytical intelligence which contributed anything resembling a warning, qua 
warning. There was an intelligence failure in the weeks preceding the out- 
break of war in the Middle East on 6 October 1973. . . . The principal con- 
clusions concerning the imminence of hostilties reached and reiterated by 
those responsible for intelligence analysis were — quite simply, obviously, 
and starkly — wrong. 

Intelligence Community’s Postmortem, December 1973' 

Colby’s tenure as DCI began with a major intelligence failure. He 
had been Director less than a month when Egypt and Syria suddenly at- 
tacked Israel. Colby and the Intelligence Community did not alert 
policymakers that a renewed Arab-Israeli war was about to break out, nor 
did they forecast that the fighting might provoke a US-Soviet confrontation 
in the Middle East Although Colby, CIA, and the Intelligence Community 
did lend the administration excellent crisis management support once the 
war was under way, their misreading of its outbreak heightened White 
House dissatisfaction with CIA and US intelligence, and did not get Colby 
off to a flying start as DCL 

That the sudden Egyptian-Syrian attacks had taken the intelligence 
and policymaking communities by surprise is beyond question. President 
Nixon, in his memoirs, recalled that, “as recently as the day before, the 
CIA had reported that the war in the Middle East was unlikely, dismissing 
as annual maneuvers the massive an d unusual troop movement that had re- 
cently been taking place in Egypt. ”7 

/ I the Office of Current Intelligence — ^the princTpal CIA 

^fice passing tactical assessments of the crisis to the White 
House — agreed. He later remarked that he did not recall anyone “anywhere 

Emphasis in the original. This postmortem was prepared at the request of Colby, made 
shortly after the sudden Egyptian-Syrian attacks on Israel had taken US intelligence by sur- 
prise. The postmortem's text is given in Attachment to USIB-D-15/2/I24, 17 January 1974. 
Nixon, Memoirs^ p. 920. 


William E. Colby 

in the Intelligence Community who definitely felt war would occur soon, 
or who markedly differed from the general consensus” that the early 
October crisis was simply another war scare such as they had seen repeat- 
edly since May.’ 

Colby’s recollection is ‘similar; “It was obvious that the intelligence 
process had failed notably in this performance.”" Henry Kissinger also 
agreed: “October 6 was the culmination of a failure of political analysis on 
the part of its victims. . . . Clearly there was an intelligence failure, but 
misjudgment was not confined to the agencies [CIA and DIA].” In 
Kissinger’s view, every policymaker knew all the facts. The problem was 
that the US “definition of rationality did not take seriously the notion of 
[the Arabs] starting an unwinnable war to restore self-respect. There was 
no defense against our own preconceptions or those of our allies.”’ Nor did 
the United States have a monopoly on poor intelligence performance. 
Israeli Lt. Gen. Haim Bar-Lev later stated that his country’s defense intelli- 
gence agency had erred; “The mistake lay in the evaluation of the intelli- 
gence data and not in the absence of accurate and reliable information.”’ 

The Intelligence Community also failed to alert US decisionmakers 
to the related oil/financial crisis that ensued between October 1973 and 
January 1974, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries 
(OPEC) raised oil prices by 400 percent. As the US Senate’s Select 
Committee on Intelligence (S SCI) later stated, US intelligence analysis at 
the time was not as perceptive as public sources were on the possibility 
that the Saudis might use oil as a political weapon. By comparison, said 
this Congressional report, analysis within the Intelligence Community had 
tended to stress continuation of the status quo in Saudi policy toward the 
United States, examining the question of oil price levels within the context 
of a narrow supply and demand framework and displaying only limited 
integration of political and economic factors. The Agency s response to 
these SSCI criticisms held that, because CIA’s analysts had not anticipated 
the Middle East war, they concluded that Saudi Arabia and the other Arab 
nations would not employ oil as a political weapon. 

P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 2 April 1987 
by Ford, 2 April 1987) 

and 465. 

^uTGenrHaim, Bar-Lev, as cited in CIA Warning Staff Study, The DCFs Duty and Authority 
to Warn, 24 December 1985, (hereafter cited as DCTs Duty and Authority to Warn), p. 7, CIA 
History Staff re cords, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 16, CIA Archives and Records Center 

’us Congress, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Subcommittee on Collection, 
Production and Quality, US Intelligence Analysis and the Oil Issue. 1973-1974: Staff Report, 
95th Cong., 1st sess., December 1977 (hereafter cited as SSCI, Intelligence Analysis and the 
Oil Issue), passim. 

Kiii.sinffer. Years of Unheaval, no. 459 





The Yom Kippur War 

The Intelligence Community’s misreading of these questions had 
be^un in the spring of 1973 with the production of a National Intelligence 
Estimate (NIE), Possible Egyptian-lsraeli Hostilities: Determinants and 
Implications. With no dissenting opinions, the USIB agencies had agreed 
that Sadat’s campaign of growing threats was one of psychological brinks- 
manship, undertaken chiefly in “hope of inspiring US pressure on Israel.” 
The situation could get out of hand, the Estimate concluded, but substantial 
Eo^yptian-Israeli hostilities appeared “unlikely in the next few weeks.” 
Sadat did not yet appear committed to an attack on the Israelis, and, since 
Egypt’s military capabilities were so limited, the participation of other even 
less impressive Arab forces — such as those of Syria — on a second front 
would “matter little in military terms.” Egyptian forces, according to the 
NIE, probably could conduct small commando raids into the Sinai 
Peninsula, but did not have the capability to seize and hold any portion of 
it in the face of Israeli opposition. The only implications for the United 
States foreseen by the Estimate were those that would attend “another 
mauling” of the Arabs by the Israelis.® 

Substantially similar views marked the assessments prepared by 
Colby and the Intelligence Community, right up to the Egyptian-Syrian 
attacks of 6 October. No NIEs or SNIEs (Special National Intelligence 
Estimates) were requested or undertaken between the National Intelligence 
Estimate of May and the end of September. This reflected the fairly relaxed 
view US intelligence had of the developing crisis. Finally, on 
30 September, worried by evidence of unusual concentrations of Syrian 
tanks on the Golan Heights, Henry Kissinger (who had become Secretary 
of State just a week ‘earlier), tasked CIA and State’s INR to give him their 
immediate assessments, at the same time requesting a coordinated NIE.^ 
Although production of this NIE was overtaken by events within 
a week, Colby and INR each gave Kissinger quick evaluations. As events 
turned out, however, these analyses also left much to be desired, INR held 
that evidence concerning the military buildups in Egypt and Syria was 
inconclusive: although the possibility could not be excluded they 
might attack Israel in the near future, the chances of such were deemed 

"NIE 30-73, “P ossible Eg yptlan-Israeii Hostilities: Determinants and Implications,” 17 May 1973, 
passim. T 

’Kissinger often^ad'morc regard for CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) officers than he 
did for Directorate of intelligence (DI) or Office of National Estimates analyses. For exam- 
ple, in an earlier Middle East war scare of May 1973, Kissinger telephoned and told a CIA 
officer that he wanted only the judgments of the DO, not those of “those DI bastards.” 
George Lauder, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 3 March 1987 
(hereafter cited as Lauder interview by Ford, 1987) 


William E. Colby 

Henry Kissinger 


The Yom Kippur War 

“dubious.”'" For the INR, CIA, and DIA assessments immediately before 
the Egyptian-Syrian attacks, CIA’s study concluded that Egyptian and 
Syrian military moves looked “very ominous,” but “the whole thrust of 
President Sadat’s activities since last spring has been in the direction 
of bringing moral, political, and economic force to bear on Israel in tacit 
acknowledgement of Arab unreadiness to make war.”‘‘ 

Following these rather cahn immediate analyses of 30 September, 
CIA, INR, and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) made similar judg- 
ments right up to— and even after— the 6 October Egyptian-Syrian attack 
on Israel On 5 October, CIA concluded that, although large military exer- 
cises were under way in Egypt, the Egyptians “do not appear to be prepar- 
ing for a military offensive against Israel” Indeed the military preparations 
thus far, said CIA, “do not indicate that any party intends to initiate hostili- 
ties.” And, on the very day the Arabs attacked Israel, CIA estimated that 
neither the Egyptians nor the Syrians appeared bent on initiating hostilities. 
For Egypt to attack now, said this CIA study, would make little sense: 
“Another round of hostilities would almost certainly destroy Sadat’s pains- 
taking efforts to invigorate the economy and would run counter to his ef- 
forts to build a United Arab political front, particularly among the less 
militant, oil-rich states. For the Syrian president, a military adventure now 
would be suicidal” And later on 6 October, even after news of the out- 
break of war had reached CIA, its Watch Committee could find no hard 
evidence of a major, coordinated Egyptian-Syrian offensive across the 
Canal or in the Golan Heights area. Rather, the Watch Committee reported: 

'“For the INR, QA, DIA assessments immediately- before the Egyptian-Syrian attacks, see 
Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, pp. 462-467; Nixon materials, box 129, NSC files/HAK files; 
Sunday Times (London) Insight Team, The Yom Kippur War (New York: Doubleday, 1974), p. 
104; CIA postmortem: US Congress, House Select Committee on Intelligence (Pike commit- 
tefe): Hearings on US Intelligence Agencies and Activities: The Performance of the 
Intelligence Community, 94th Cong., 1st sess., 11, 12, 18, 25, 30 September and 7, 30, 31 
October 1975 (hereafter cited as Pike committee. Hearings, Intelligence Agencies and 
Activities), p. 637. During the months before the war, there had been a certain division of 
judgment within the State Department, so that some of its intelligence assessments were oc- 
casionally more alarmist than the above INR judgments. For example, shortly after the earlier 
NIE in May 1973, Ray S. Cline, INR’s Director, had given Secretary of State William Rogers 
a special memorandum that held the resumption of Arab-Isaeli hostilities “will become a bet- 
ter than even bet“ by autumn (Pike committee report, as cited in CIA: The Pike Report 
{Nottingham, England: Spokesman Brooks, 1977], pp. 141-142. Although the House of 
Representatives voted not to publish the Pike committee’s report [as discussed in chapter 11, 
below], a leaked version of the “Report” appeared in the New York Village Voice, and then 
was published in England — with an introduction by Phillip Agee — as CIA: the Pike Report). 
Cline has also claimed that at the last minute, on 5 October, he prepared a private assessment 
for Kissinger that held that hostilities probably were imminent, but could not get this alert 
through to the Secretary before Egypt and Syria attacked Israel the next day (Cline interview 
by Ford, 31 March 1988). In any case, frictions with Kissinger, (discussed in chapter 2), led 
Cline to resign from State a few days later. 

(London) Sunday Times Insight Team, The Yom Kippur War. See also CIA postmortem: 
Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, p. 464; 


William E. Colby 

the weight of evidence indicates an action-reaction situation where a series 
of reponses by each side to perceived threats created an increasingly danger- 
ous potential for confrontation. ... It is possible that the Egyptians or 
Syrians, particularly the latter, may have been preparing a raid or other 
small-scale action.*^ 

Clearly, CIA and the Intelligence Community did not cover them- 
selves with glory. Even worse, Lawrence Eagleburger (then a senior assis- 
tant of Kissinger’s) claims that “Henry reading some fairly raw 
intelligence came to the conclusion that Sadat was going to start a war be- 
fore the Intelligence Community itself did, but too. late all the same.”'^ 
William Quandt (then a National Security Council staffer responsible for 
handling Arab-Israeli matters) explains that Kissinger’s greater degree of 
alarm came from earlier warnings Brezhnev had privately given him that 
the Arabs were serious and that war was coming. The problem was, Quandt 
states, Kissinger had not shared this back-channel insight with DCI Colby 
or the Intelligence Community.'^ 

A telling indicator that intelligence had not alerted policymakers to 
the imminent outbreak of war was the fact that, when the attacks came, on 
Saturday, 6 October, Henry Kissin ger was in New York at the UN. 
President Nixon was at Key Biscayne 

Jin all, this wam- 

ing failure marked an inauspicious start for DCI Colby in a situation of 
enormous consequence for US crisis management, Israeli security, world 
oil supplies, and the threat of added Soviet presence in the Middle East. 

That intelligence performed so poorly was all the more remarkable 
since before the October War, Andrew Marshall and Kissinger’s NSCIC 
Working Group had drawn some constructive lessons from scrutinizing 
several previous crisis situations. Concluding that, in those cases intelli- 
gence analysts had received too little information on policy-level intelli- 
gence needs, the Working Group also found there had been too much 
current intelligence reporting and — contradicting Nixon and Kissinger’s 
own expressed preferences — too little analytical perspective on the given 

The Pike Committee Report, 680-681; Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, pp. 462-467; Top 
Secret documentation in Nixon materials, box 129, NSC fiics/HAK hies. 

‘^Lawrence Eagleburger, to John Ranelagh, as cited in Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and 
Decline of CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), pp. 582-583. 

William Quandt, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 4 May 1987 
(hereafter cited as Quandt interview by Ford, 4 May 1987) (ConM 


The Yarn Kippur War 

developing crises.’^ Moreover, Marshall had called those findings to 
Colby’s attendon in May 1973, adding additional recommendations of his 
own.‘^ In the event, however, the five months from May to October proved 
too short a period for Colby to achieve much in pushing the Intelligence 
Community toward such needed improvements.*^ 

There were a number of reasons why US intelligence did not do a 
better job in anticipating the Egyptian-Syrian attacks on Israel in October 
1973. To an important degree, the Intelligence Community relied heavily 
on Israeli intelligence for data and judgments on the Middle East. Although 
the Israelis had previously been remarkably accurate, in this instance they 
were not. President Nixon was “stunned by the failure of Israeli intelli- 
gence. They were among the best in the world, and they too, had been 
caught off guard.”*® Henry Kissinger’s recollection is that “every Israeli 
(and American) analysis before October 1973 agreed that Egypt and Syria 
lacked the military capability t o regain their territory by force of arms; 
hence there would be no war.”*’! 

'■'Jeanne W. Davis, Staff Secretary, National Security Council, Memorandum for the Attorney 
General, the Deputy Secretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Director of 
Central Intelligence, and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Studies of Intelligence Crisis 
Support,” 23 May 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90BOO336R, box 1, folder 15, CIA 
Archives and Records Center NSCIC Working Group, Memorandum for National 

Security Council Intelligence Committee, “NSCIC Working Group Summary of Findings 
Regarding Intelligence Support in Crisis Situations and Recommended Actions,*’ 9 May 
1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 15, CIA Archives and 
Records Center 

‘^Andrew MarshaffTNational Security Council, Memorandum for William Colby, DQ, sub- 
ject not given, 22 May 1973 with two attachments: Marshall, Memorandum for Colby, 
“Areas for Discussion,” 21 May 1973; Marshall, Memorandum for the Record, “Additional 
Insights From the Three Crisis Studies,” 21 May 1973; all three memorandums filed in CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 16, CIA Archives and Records Center 
Those findings and recommendations held that US intelligence should place more 
emphasis on preparing personality studies of key foreign leaders; meeting the needs of top- 
level US consumers; presenting conflicting estimative judgments; treating and communicat- 
ing estimative uncertainties; improving mtcHigence personnel management and management 
training; rigorously evaluating the Community’s performance and product; preparing serious 
contingency planning before the possible crises; and developing broader, “less sheltered” 
views of world politics. 

The Community’s performance in 1973 concerning possible Arab attacks on Israel con- 
trasted sharply with the excellent alerts Helms’s CIA had earlier given the White House in 
the runup to the Six Day War in 1967, Helms considered that performance to have been “the 
finest, across-the-board execution of our mission at every level that I have seen in my twenty 
years with the Central Intelligence Agency” (Richard Helms, DCI, Memorandum for CIA’s 
Deputy Directors, 14 June 1967, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, CIA 
Archives and Records Center ^ ^ a result of that performance Helms became a 

regular member of President Johnson’s Tuesday luncheons, that inner circle where LBJ and 
his closest advisers attacked the country’s principal questions of national security. Although 
Helms had a good deal less access to Nixon than he had to Johnson, he still fared better than 
Colby ever did. 

‘*Nixon, Memoirs, p. 920. 

‘^Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, p. 459. 


William E. Colby 


'i’here were many reasons wtiy'lsraeilTncemgence tiuscaiieu me cum- 

ing attacks. In an earlier invasion false alarm in May 1973 when Israeli 
Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. David Elazar had predicted war, Israeli mili- . 
tary intelligence leaders had disagreed. This judgment had heightened the 
intelligence officers* credibility. In turn, these officers held stubbornly to 
certain questionable “lessons” learned from the 1967 war: that Egypt 
would not attack until its air force had neutralized Israel’s, and that Israel 
would have at least 48 hours’ warning before an invasion. 

Since Secretary Kissinger had been prodding Israel toward peace 
negotiations its leaders did not want, they may have deliberately under- 
stated their degree of alarm about a surprise attack for fear that the White 
House would push them all the harder toward such negotiations. Such a 
thesis can be inferred from Kissinger’s own account: “The approaching 
[Middle East peace] diplomacy distorted the Israelis’ perspective as well. 
They acquired a vested interest in belittling Arab threats lest the United 
States use the danger of war as a pretext to press Israel for concessions.”^' 

In addition, during the crucial week just before 6 October, Israeli 
attention had been distracted by Palestinian terrorists’ attack on a train 
bearing Soviet Jewish emigres to Wienna (the “Schonau” affair), and by 
the subsequent negotiations for the release of those emigrants taken 
hostage. That crisis dominated the news in Israel, while Egyptian and 
Syrian matters were given back-page treatment. The terrorists in question 

'“Wiliiara Colby, DCI, Memorandum for Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State, “Critique of 
Middle East Crisis,” 27 October 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box I, 
folder 15, CIA Archives and Records Center (hereafter cited as Colby Memorandum for 
Kissinger, “Critique of Middle East Crisis,” 27 October 1973) j 

Accoruing ia ~ Kaymuna Kucca ~ \uic u uiaci-ox lopmw ua 

Syrian intentions was in fact produced by the Cl Staff, not the NE Division. Rocca holds that 
this report evidently made no dent on the US Intelligence Community's analysts and just “got 
lost somewhere in the shuffle” (Raymond Rocca, interview by Harold R Ford, summary 
notes, Washington, DC, 19 August 1987 [hereafter cited as Rocca interview by Ford, 
19 August 1987] Although the report in question was apparently an excellent one, 

it did not pinpoint^ustwhen the attacks might come. In any event, this was just one of many 
DO reports at the time, others of which subsequently proved to be wrong. 

^‘Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, p. 461. 


The Yom Kippur War 

were members of the Syrian-controlled Sai’qa. It has never been estab- 
lished whether the timing of their terrorist attack was a coincidence or a 
deliberate act to divert Israeli watchfulness. 

Moreover, the mastermind of the Egyptian-Syrian invasions of Israel, 
President Sadat, had done a brilliant job of misleading the Israelis— and 
American intelligence. As Kissinger later wrote, Sadat **paraiy 2 ed his op- 
ponents with their own preconceptions. By orchestrating a false war 
scare in May, and then repeating more “scares” in the form of Egyptian 
and Syrian troop concentrations opposite Sinai and the Golan, Sadat lulled 
Israeli watchfulness. Hence Israeli and US intelligence judged the Arab 
military concentrations in the first week of October to be simply more of 
the same. And, whether or not the Sai’qa terrorist attack was also part of a 
l^ger Egyptian-Syrian deception plan, Sadat had created a certain aura of 
“progress” in Arab-Israeli deliberations at the United Nations, a develop- 
ment that found an expectant Henry Kissinger there when the attacks on 
Israel occurred. 

Golby and US intelligence were further harmed by the fact that, by 
October 1973. the President’s personal political crisis was far advanced 
and much regular governmental access to the White House had diminished’ 
Nixon’s attentions were so distracted that he did not himself participate 
directly, later in October, in the momentous late-night decision in which 
Kissinger and a rump session of the Washington Special Action Group 
(WSAG, discussed below) brought US armed forces to an advanced state 
of alert (DefCon III) worldwide. In addition, the US intelligence and 
policymaking communities at the time were focusing on many issues other 
than Israeh-Arab tensions, such as the continuing Vietnam war, peace 
negotiations m Paris, SALT issues, and rapprochement with the People’s 
Republic of China. 

By coincidence, CIA’s analytic capabilities in Septemfaer-October 
1973 were also in some disairay. Having disbanded the Office of National 
stmates, Colby had begun to replace it with a system of individual 
a on ntelligence Officers (NIOs), whose new procedures were not yet 
ettective. A number of personnel changes had recently been made and 
some of the most knowledgeable Middle East analysts had moved to other 
jobs. In aA’s Office of Current Intelligence (OCI. the office principaUy 
Hou°T^ serving up cur rent intelligence analyses to the White 

^ I t o that ar ea-and had just 

turned from a year away on sabbatical. His boss happened to 

e on leave the week before 6 October. Also, most of CIA’s DI officers had 
o a irsthand experience in the field, or the opportunity to gain the 

Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, p. 460 . 


William E. Colby 


up-close “feeP’ so necessary where available evidence is ambiguous. 
Furthermore, within the DI there was little integrated political-economic 
analysis as such: its political analysts and economists tended to work in- 
dependently of each other, a separation that contributed to CIA’s failure to 
anticipate OPEC’s use of oil as a weapon. Finally, although some DO 
officers were more concerned about a possible Arab attack than were their 
DI colleagues, they could not get the analysts to sound a stronger alarm in 
their assessments for the White House.^ 

Then, too, as we have seen, Kissinger was in possession of certain 
sensitive intelligence that he did not share with the DCI or the Intelligence 
Community, Colby later told him, candidly, that he could have done a bet- 
ter job as DCI had the White House not cut him off from certain privileged 
data, “I fully understand the need for secrecy in our government on these 
delicate subjects,” he wrote, “although it is clear that the back channel in 
many instances is becoming the main channel causing lost and even coun- 
terproductive motion, aside from anguish, among many not in the cir- 
cuit.”^'* Such crucially important back-channel information included earlier 
warnings Brezhnev had given Kissinger of the Arabs’ serious intent, as 
well as private dia logue between Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador 
Dobrynin, and various private messages from Sadat.^^ 

Last, and perhaps most important, accurate estimates of Arab inten- 
tions suffered from certain preconceptions strongly held by many of the 
Intelligence Community’s analysts. These officers tended to denigrate Arab 
capabilities and to assume that past patterns of Arab, military conduct 
would continue. Some of these analysts were also guilty of mirror imaging, 
in estimating that it “wouldn’t make [American] sense” for Sadat to 
launch an attack that he knew would probably not carry the day militarily 
but might advance the Arabs’ cause politically. “We had a bit of a mind 
set,” Colby conceded in 1975,^^ a conclusion with which many other 

:-DI officer, 
‘eafter cited asl 

P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, 

^interview by Ford, 2 April 1987) 

ex-DI officer, int erview^ p y Harojid P. Ford, summary notes, WashingfonTDC, 
" lintery iew by Ford, 16 March 1987) (Sg^nsfjT Lauder 
cx-Intelligcnce Community St^iofficer, inter- 

16 March 1987 (hereafter cited a^ 
interview by Ford, 1987 (Secret); 
view bv Har old P, Ford, summar)!^ 

ington, DC, 31 March 1987 (hereafter cited as 
interview by Ford, 31 March l^hT) £iji****' iTPT V analyses were also harmed at 
tne time because certain senior DIA estimators tended to accept Israeli evaluations uncriti- 
cally and to override more cautionary iudem CTts being made b v some of DIA’s more junior 

analysts (several CIA officers, but especially 

interview by Ford, 31 March 

^‘‘Colby, Memorandum for Kissinger, “Critique of Middle East Crisis,” 27 October 1973 
^^uandt, interview by Ford, 4 May 1987. 

“CoIby statement made at a news conference that, as discussed in chapter 11, Colby called to 
explain why the Pike committee should not include certain sensitive (communications intelli- 
gence) data in the report it was preparing at the time. At this unique news conference, held in 
CIA’s auditorium, journalists raised a number of questions concerning the performance of US 
intelligence two years earlier in the Middle East war. 

The Yom Klppur War 

observers have agreed. Kissinger later characterized the situation similarly, 
holding that the Arab attack on Israel had demonstrated the dangers inher- 
ent in the tendency of most intelligence services to fit the facts into exist- 
in^ preconceptions and to make them consistent with what is anticipated.^^ 
The House's, later Pike, investigating committee also attributed part of the 
problem in October 1973 to analytical bias. In its view, one reason for the 
analysts’ optimism could be found in a 1971 CIA handbook, which stated 
that the Arab fighting man ‘Tacks the necessary physical and cultural qual- 
ities for performing effective military services.” The Pike committee con- 
cluded that, because the Arabs were thought to be so clearly inferior, 
another attack would be irrational and, thus, out of the question.'^ Finally, 
Robert Morris, a former NSC staffer, listed like reasons for the failure to 
anticipate the Egyptian-Syrian attack on Israel: “The worst common flaw 
in the reading of the intelligence was an abiding cultural, perhaps racial, 
contempt in Washington and Jerusalem for the political posturing and 
fighting skills of the Arabs. 

The Performance of Intelligence After the October War’s Outbreak 

Deficient though they had been in sounding the alarm beforehand, 
DCI Colby and the Intelligence Community did render the policymakers 
excellent support once the Egyptian-Syrian attacks had begun, which 
helped the White House’s crisis management of subsequent diplomacy, 
cease-fires, and the diplomatic showdown with the USSR. This support ap- 
plied throughout the course of the war, as this Middle East crisis escalated 
to US-Soviet confrontation.^ ^ ~ ~ 

I uoiDy set up special worong groups mai Kepi me“ 
White House abreast of fast-breaking events and provided Kissinger 
numerous short-term outlook studies and think pieces. Meanwhile, on a 
Community-wide basis, Colby’s working groups integrated a rather large 
amount of special, compartmented intelligence, which gave Kissinger 
many particulars concerning battlefield developments and the various 
armies’ logistic situations. They also provided him prompt cartographic 
support, essential to the negotiations that eventually reduced the Middle 
East crisis fever.^° 

■’Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, p. 460, 

^CM; The Pike Report, p. 142. 

Robert Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy (New 
York: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 253. 

“Harold Saunders, former NSC Staff officer, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, 
Washington, DC, 4 May 1987 (hereafter cited as Saunders interview by Ford, 4 May 1987) 
(Cogfiik ia^ei^Ouandt interview by Ford, 4 May 1987; see also Top Secret documentation in 
Tfixon materials, box 123, NSC files/HAK office files; boxes 209 and 265, NSC files/Agency 
files; and boxes 664 and 665, NSC Hles/country files/ME. 

William E. Colby 

Of particular service to US policymakers were the technical services 

performed by CIA specialists 

These experts clari- 

fied complicated geographic uoundaries in ttie iiinai, fumisfaed detailed 
data on certain cities where the cease-fires under negotiation were designed 
to give the local disputants equal portions of land, and pointed out the 
differences between actual and claimed battlefield tank losses. In all, the 
intelligence particulars furnished by Colby’s worldng groups enabled 
Secretary of State Kissinger to call certain bluffs or attempted deceptions 
on the part of the Arab and Israeli disputants and thus strengthened his 
negotiating leverage as the mediator of the crisis. 

Though surrounded by many other demands at the time, Colby per- 
sonally played an active role in lending crisis management support to the 
Secretary of State. Meeting daily with Kissinger’s Washington Special 
Action Group, the DCI not only was the best prepared source of intelli- 
gence details, but also the official to whom Kissinger turned for ordering 
specific intelligence needs concerning collection, clarification, and analy- 
sis. Within CIA, Colby held daily informal meetings on the crisis with the 
DDI, the DDO, and the nascent NIO officers, where they discussed the 
day’s all-source take and shared their evaluations. These meetings kept the 
assessments sent to the White House as current and accurate as possible, 

ensured the personal input of the DCI, and prepared Colby for his niany 
meetings with Kissinger and other top policymakers during the crisis. 
Colby also commissioned the candid postmortem report on the perfor- 
mance of US intelligence before the outbreak of the war.^^ 

The DefCon HI Affair 

The war crisis reached its apex, as far as US security interests were 
concerned, on the night of 24-25 October, in the now famous White House 
decision — made without President Nixon present — to bring US military 
forces to a higher alert status (DefCon HI) worldwide. 

From an intelligence point of view, a number of developments had 
occurred by 24 October to justify top US policymakers careful scrutiny of 
the broader US-Soviet situation. A crisis had developed as the tide of the 
war definitely turned in Israel’s favor. Cease-fires unraveled, Israeli forces 


'"DCI Morning Meeting Notes of 19. 23, 29 October, and 2 November 1973. CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, CIA Archives and Records Center 
"Intelligence Community postmortem. Henry Kissinger sent Colby a “Dear Bill” note, 
25 February 1974, thanking him for this postmortem. Kissinger called that study “an out- 
standing analysis of the Intelligence Community’s reaction and performance during a major 
world crisis. It was both dispassionately candid and broad in coverage and should prove to be 
a valuable management tool throughout the Community” (Nixon materials, box 210, NSC 
files/Agency files/CIA, Vol. VII). 


^ The Yom Kippur War 

Atn annihilate Egypt’s 3rd Army in the Sinai, and Moscow be- 
^reTuspicious that, despite Washington’s assurances, the United States - 
would not or could not restrain jielsrae^ 

Atop these alarming reports came an extremely tough note to 
President Nixon from Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev threatening to 
dispatch Soviet troops to the Middle East unilaterally. Kissinger, Defense 
Secretary Schlesinger, JCS Chairman Admiral Moorer, Wlute House Chief 
of Staff Alexander Haig, General Brent Scowcroft (Kissinger’s NSC 
deputy) and DCI Colby were the officers who participated in the rump ses- 
sion of ’the WSAG during the night of 24-25 October that resulted in the 
remarkable decision for a Defense Condition III (DefCon IH) alert While 
they met, Nixon remained upstairs in the White House, although Kissinger 
conferred with him by phone before the group’s decision. 

5 November issue oi Aviation Week stated haUy that the Soviets 

nnelear- armed SCUD missiles to Egypt and that the US Government had satellite pictures to_ 

j A parallel study 

conducted within the NSC carried an even more alarmist tone tcompartmented mtelligence, 
Nixon materials, box 132, NSC flics/HAK office files)., 


President Richard M. Nixon 

The Yom Kippur War 

Many questioned, then and later, whether the decision for DefCon III 
was based on legitimate alarms or whether it was an overreaction. There 
has also been speculation that the decision may have been politically moti- 
vated, at least in part, by the needs of a Watergate-beleaguered White 
House.” Colby considered that the DefCon III decision had been justified 
and, four days after that WSAG meeting, so informed Secretary 
Kissinger.” In his memoirs Colby explicitly supported Kissinger’s decision 
for the DefCon IH alert. Writing in 1978, Colby believed thafKissmger 
had not overreacted, inasmuch as Defense Condition HI was the lowest 
level of US military alert, and the Strategic Air Command and a good por- 
tion of the Pacific Command were already at that level. Ray Cline s view 
of Kissinger’s role in the DefCon HI affair is less generous. “I have always 
looked on this as a kind of shell game, a superficial exercise,” he later 
stated. “That is, Kissinger knew what he wanted to do all along, had al 
ready decided to do it.” In Cline’s view. Kissinger only summoned 
Secretary of Defense Schlesinger and the others to give the decision the 
semblance of official action. “I’ve heard that President Nixon was upstairs 
drunk that night.” Cline observed, “I don’t know that that’s a fact, but it is 
clear — and we didn’t know it at the time — how far Nixon was out of things 

in those days.”” ^ , j 

In retrospect, Colby held that the October Middle East War afforded 
a number of intelligence lessons. In his view, the experience demonstrated 
that the Intelligence Community’s collection machinery could be superb 
when focused as it had been in the latter days of the crisis, but that the real 
challenge for the future would be to make the analytic process function 
with the same degree of excellence. To accomplish this. Colby believed 
that more automatic challenge or variations to the consensus must be built 
into the analytical process. In addition, Colby pointed out, US inteUigence 
before the war had suffered from a dearth of independ ent coverage and 
I 7 ' (The intelligence 

"Among the skeptics at the time was Australia’s Prime Minister, 

asked at a press club luncheon (8 November) whether US bases in u wasn't told I 

more than normal alert, answered: “I don’t know if they were put on 

believe the announcement was for domestic American 

noted, with anger, in the White House (see Top Secret documentation in Nixon 

2, White House special files/staff and office files). This DefCon ffl nighttime 

place just four days after Mr. Nixon’s Halloween Massacre: 

Richardson, and Ruckelshaus. One interpretation at the Ume was that the P 

Action Group’s decision had been made at least in part to “"< 17 = 

Kremlin that the White House was too paralyzed by Watergate to t e 

crisis situation abroad. , ^ ^ . • m o-r iq 7 ^ 

"'^Colby, Memorandum for Kissinger, “Critique of Middle East Cnsis, 

^Colby, Honorable Men, p. 367. 

^*Qine, interview by Ford, 31 March 1988. 

William E. Colby 


provided tlje White House had been too much a CIA product. In the future, 
he concluded, the White House must more fuUy share privileged date with 
the DCI, while the full analytical weight of the entire Intelligence 
Community must be brought more directly to bear on policymaking con- 

Colby subsequently made some progress in correcting these weak- 
nesses. He stimulated more competitive analysis and greater analytic con- 
tribution by agencies of the Conununity other than the CIA. He also 


the acquisition of 

t irimmunitv s waiCU 

He broadened the responsibilities or me iniemgence 
function, to prevent a repeat of the situation that ex- 

w ~ 7 J. • 

isted at the time of the October War’s outbreak- 
indications Center had had no explicit requirement to warn, only to watch, 
and the USIB’s Watch Committee had “degenerated into participation only 
by action officers rather than serious analysts or high officials.” Colby 
also set in motion new initiatives that led ultimately to the creation of a 
Special Assistant to the DCI for Strategic Warning. 

Colby was not successful, however, in changing Henry Kissinger’s 
proclivity for keeping sensitive information to himself. Despite the excel- 
lent crisis management support that Colby and the Intelligence Community 
contributed after the hostilities began, their failure to foresee the war s out- 
break hardened Nixon’s and Kissinger’s conviction that US intelligence 
was deficient on many scores and further damaged Colby s standing at this, 
the very outset of his tenure as DCI. His role thereafter remained that of a 
senior staff specialist to whom the White House looked for intelligence 
data and support, but not for interpretations of broader issues, to say not- 
ing of policy recommendations. On most issues Colby had to deal with 
Kissinger’s deputy, Brent Scowcroft, and NSC staffers and was shut out 
from any meaningful, continuing access to the major policy players. 

”Colby, Memorandum for Kissinger, “Critique of Middle East Cnsis,*’ 27 
*°The DCrs Duty and Authority to Warn, p. 12. CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R. 
box 2, folder 16, CIA Archives and Records Center 



Chapter 4 

Responses to White House Pressures for 
Improved Intelligence 

DCI Colby concentrated much of his effort during the first year and a 
half of his tenure on fashioning a cohesive set of responses to President 
Nixon’s 5 November 1971 order that the DCI take a more leading 
Community role in improving US national intelligence. To the end of his 
tenure, Colby repeatedly cited Nixon’s directive as the principal order guid- 
ing the many administrative changes he introduced: “We can look at 
American intelligence as having arrived — Shaving fulfilled the major goals 
of the Presidential memorandum of 1971 and moving toward making intel- 
ligence more a part of America,” he stated in 1975 as he was leaving 
office. ‘ 

The managerial initiatives Colby introduced in 1973-74, which he 
termed the “DQ’s Family of National Intelligence Guidance Documents,” 
were many and varied. Community-wide and intra-CIA. Some of these 
measures brought substantial and lasting improvement, others proved 
unrealistic. From the outset, even before DCI Schlesinger’s departure, 
Colby— at the time CIA’s Executive Director and Executive Secretary of 
the Agency’s Management Committee — ^focused his efforts on responding 
to White House desires for strengthening US intelligence. In June 1973, as 
DCI-designate, Colby commissioned a CIA study group to review and 
recommend changes diat would enable the DCI to speak more effectively 
to top policymakers, in the process better coordinating the Intelligence 
Community and rationalizing its production of current intelligence for 
national purposes.^ 

On 7 September, just three days after he was sworn in as Director, 
Colby sent President Nixon a long, ambitious — and, as events were to 
prove, overly optimistic — set of proposed DCI objectives in direct response 

‘From Colby remarks upon the occasion of his being presented the National Intelligence 
Distinguished Service Mcdah as recorded in the minutes of USIB-M-7, 15 January 1976. 
^William Colby, Executive Secretary, CIA Management Committee, Memorandum for 
Management Committee, “Support to the DCI on National Intelligence,’’ 11 June 1973, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 6, CIA Archives and Records Center 

; C01330171 

William E. Colby 

to the President’s November 1971 directive/ These proposals concerned 
analytic product, producer consumer relations, personnel procedures, the 
USIB committee system, budget procedures, resource allocation, research 
and development, duplication of intelligence effort, division of labor, serv- 
ices of common concern, intelligence requirements, intelligence support of 
US military needs, and intelligence priorities/ 

After receiving quick approval from Henry Kissinger and his intelli- 
gence aide, Andrew Marshall, Colby set many of his new administrative 
initiatives in motion. In a mid- 1974 report to the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB), he assured OMB that he was assuming responsible and 
authoritative leadership of the Intelligence Community as a whole, actively 
reviewing the quality, scope, and timeliness of the intelligence product, and 
working toward a more efficient use of Community resources. The goal, he 
told OMB, was to provide the best possible intelligence to prime con- 

Confident in his refoim aims, Colby proceeded to shake up a number 
of procedures that had remained unchanged for years, initiating more new 
processes than any other DCI had done since the formative years of CIA 
and the Intelligence Community in the late 1940s and early 1950s. By the 
spring of 1975, Colby’s innovations, worked out in concert with the NSC 
staff and OMB, had become the Director’s “family” of national intelli- 
gence guidance documents. Designed to drive resource allocation and the 
intelligence decision making process, they included Perspectives for 
Intelligence, 1975-80, Objectives for the Intelligence Community for FY 
1975, Key Intelligence Questions, and US Foreign Intelligence Priorities 
(DCro 1/2), This family of DCI-Community responses was splendid in 
concept, the surprising product of a career operations man who had deter- 
mined that analytical intelligence support of the President was the DCI s 
“primary responsibility.” In Colby’s view, these guidance endeavors aU fit 
together neatly, supporting his analytical and managerial responsibilities 
and better allocating resources among the various components of the 
Intelligence Community*' Here Colby deserves high marks for recognizing 
the existence of numerous previously intractable problems, for sensitizing 
US intelligence to these needs, and for initiating specific measures to 
rationalize the management of the Community’s budget, collection effort, 
and production of intelligence. 

^See earlier discussion in chapter 2 of Nixon’s 1971 directive, P- D 

*William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for the President, “Objectives for the Intelligence 
Community,” USm-D-22-1/6, 7 September 1973. ^ ^ 

^William Colby, DCI. Report to OMB, “Interim Report on FY 

Intelligence Community,” 18 July 1974. as cited in Attachment to USIBn^C-D-22.1/22 
22 July 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 14, CIA Archives and 

Records Center r i 

^William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for the Record, “The DCI s Family of National 
Intelligence Guidance Documents.” 28 Aprii 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, folder 16, CIA Archives and Records Center (Sgsj»«jrr 

White House Pressures 


The National InteUigence Officer (NIO) System 

Colby’s most significant specific innovation was his establishment 
(following DQ Schlesinger’s initiative) of the National InteUigence Officer 
(NIO) system. Although the manner in which he brought about this change 
betrayed in certain respects his lack of close familiarity with the analytic 
side of CIA, Colby’s concept of the NIOs did reflect a broad general ap- 
preciation of US policymakers’ needs for substantiaUy improved intelli- 
gence support. 

The genesis of this change lay in the intense dissatisfacUon that the 
President, Henry Kissinger, and other senior members of the Nixon ad- 
ministration had long had with the DCI’s Office of National Estimates 
(ONE).’ These White House criticisms pertained both to substance and 
presentation. Kissinger argued that the key National Intelligence Estimates 
(NIEs) — especially those assessing the threat from Soviet strategic 
weapons— would be far more helpful to policymakers if the estimators 
went beyond ‘'mere assertions’* and incorporated into the Estimates the 
evidence, methodology, and rationale behind their judgments. Indeed, even 
before Schlesinger’s 1971 critical study of US intelligence and President 
Nixon’s subsequent directive, Kissinger had signaled his desire for change 
in the NIEs. Over the objections of ONE, DCi Helms took the responsibil- 
ity for drafting some of the most important estimates (the NEE 11-3 and 
11-8 series on Soviet strategic weapons) out of the hands of ONE and gave 
it to CIA’s DI and DS&X® According to John Huizenga (Director of ONE 
in early 1973), this shift of responsibility also had roots in earlier efforts of 
DDl R. Jack Smith to place ONE back under the Directorate of 
Intelligence." Smith (a former member of the Board of National Estimates 
who had been DDI from early 1966 until May 1971) had indeed met with 
Kissinger and conveyed the latter’s dissatisfaction with the NIE 11-3 and 
11-8 series to DCI Helms. 

We have seen in chapter 2 that in 1970 there was high-level White 
House interest in moving out some of CIA’s estimators. In addition, sensi- 
tive information in CIA files shows trouble at that time within ONE, as 

’William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for the DDCI and CIA’s Office Directors, Agency 
Organization,” 5 November 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R. box 1, folder 12, 
CIA Archives and Records Center (Sjcsifjr 

*Richard Ldiman, interview by HarotoR Rird, summary notes, Washington, DC, 7 January 1987 
(hereafter cited as Lehman interview by Ford, 7 January 1987) Howard Stoertz, in- 

terview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 7 January 1987 (hereafter cited 
as Stoertz interview by Ford, 7 January 1987) John Huizenga, interview by Harold 

P Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 9 January 1987 (hereafter cited as Huizenga inter- 
view by Ford, 9 January 1987) Diary Note of Executive Director-Comptroller L. K. 

“Red” White, 4 May 1970, CIAHistory Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, CIA Archives 
and Records Center (Se^se^T 

’Huizenga intervie^J^ Ford, 9 January 1987; the author’s personal experience and 


William E. Colby 

well as DCI Helms’s considerable concern about that office’s effectiveness. 
For example, m October 1970, the CIA’s Executive Director-Comptroller 
(Col. L. K. “Red” White) wrote, “Morale [in ONE] is very low. Good 
people are looking for other jobs; the rivalry with D/DI is severe and un- 
healthy; they think that the objective of D/DI ... is either to eliminate 
ONE completely or to leave the Board powerless by removing the staff.” 
Similarly, George Carver later commented on earlier dissadsfaction with 
ONE’S poor performance: “There was a lot more scar tissue from the past 
than senior ONE Officers admitted.”” Thus, three years before DCI 
Schlesinger and Colby instituted the new NIO system, ONE had begun 
contributing to its own demise. 

Before becoming DCI, Colby recognized that DCI Schlesinger shared 
Nixon’s and Kissinger’s critical views of the NIEs. Indeed, Schlesinger 
held that, although CIA’s academic repute had originally been “superb” 
under the distinguished Harvard professor, William L. Danger, as the years 
had passed, the Agency’s analysts and estimative officers had “turned 
more inward, they reached out less and less to the universities. . . . The 
result was that they had become remote from those with whom they should 
have been in reasonably good communication.”^^ In Schlesinger’s view, 
CIA had Itself grown more irrelevant over the years, a trend aggravated by 
having moved out of town to Langley, Virginia, where its officers could no 
longer daily rub shoulders with policymakers; CIA had become 
“a cloister,” and its analytic examinations had grown more and more 
abstract. Part of this situation he attributed to DCI Helms, who in 
Schlesinger’s opinion had not been much interested in the analytic side of 
the House, and who in fact had once told him that “it was a lot of crap.”” 

In preparing his 1971 critique of US intelligence, Schlesinger had 
been well impressed by ±e kind of relevant intelligence support that two 
particular CIA services did contribute to top policymakers. These were the 
DCFs Special Assistant for Vietnam Affairs (SAVA), headed by George A. 
Carver, and the intelligence product on Soviet strategic weapons progress 
provided by CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T), headed 

'^Lawrence K. White, Executive Director-Comptroller, Memorandum for the Record, 
“ONE,” 27 October 1970, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, CIA Archives 
and Records Center 

"Carver interview by Ford, 2 December 1987. 

'^James Schlesinger, interview by J. Kenneth McDonald and jtape recording, 

_!^5hin^on, DC, 11 January 1982 (hereafter cited as Schlesingci^terview by McDonald and 
I 7 ^ January 1982) rji i iniifT 

'^Ibid. According to John Huizenga, Director of ONE in 1973, Helms went over NIEs care- 
fully before the USIB sessions and paid particular attention to those he knew to be of prime 
importance to senior consumers, or those that might injure CIA in some way (Huizenga inter- 
view by Ford, 9 January 1987). Many officers would differ with Huizenga on this assessment. 
It was this author’s observation, based on participation in USIB sessions, that the NIEs were 
not high among Helms’s interests, that he did not welcome much discussion of substantive 
NIE issues at USIB, and that he sometimes cut off talkative USIB principals at the knees. 

White House Pressures 

by Carl Duckett. According to George Carver, Schlesinger held both of 
these endeavors to be ‘'welcome exceptions to the CIA norm” and accord- 
ingly wanted many more such exceptions to be created.** 

Colby prized the SAVA system. He compared it favorably with other 
arrangements where he had often been faced by a whole “roomful of China 
experts” when he would have much preferred dealing with one senior 
officer in whom the area’s responsibilities had been concentrated- Colby 
held that Dick Helms’s appointment of Peer de Silva (SAVA’s first chief, in 
1965) was the model that he followed when he set up the NIO system, to 
do the same thing for all the other areas of the world as Helms had done 
for Vietnam, because he found it very helpful and useful.*^ 

In the event, it was Schlesinger who initiated the NIO system, and 
Colby who brought it to fniition. As George Carver later observed: “It was 
Bill Colby’s concern with the importance of the estimative process,” a con- 
cern shared and often discussed with his predecessor, “that led Jim 
Schlesinger to initiate and Bill to complete” this major restructuring.*^ 

At the outset of his DCI tenure, Schlesinger named a few GS-15- 
level officers as proto-NIOs. They were to some degree to serve as George 
Carver had been doing since 1966 with respect to Vietnam affairs. These 
new officers include^ 

Corpora tion) 

(Soviet affairs, from the RAND 

J (Middle East affairs, from CIA), 

(strategic nuclear weapons questions, from the Atomic Energy 
Commission), and (part-timel ^at-large 

issues, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The status of these 
proto-NIOs was not fixed. They simply pitched in, informally, to help the 
DCI in the work of their respective precincts. At the same time, 
Schlesinger commissioned Colby to develop this new scheme more fuUy. 

According to George Carver, Colby shared Schlesinger’s view that 
the analytic side of the house was “all screwed up,”*’ and even before be- 
coming DCI, Colby set out to perfect the nascent NIO scheme. In 
memorandums of 7 and 9 February 1973, Colby proposed sweeping new 
responsibilities for what he initially called the “referents” (NIOs), at the 
same time expanding their number and raising their status to GS super- 
grade. In his planning, he consulted closely with George Carver, who 
played a central role in sh aping the new system. Colby also sought the 

views ofi 

at the time CIA’s liaison officer in Kissinger’s 

George Carver, letter to VAdm. Vincent R dc Poix, USN, Dn)IA, 14 March 1974, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 6, CIA Archives and Records Center 

l^olby interview by Ford, 3 February 1987; Colby, Honorable Men, p. 352. 

Carver interview by Ford, 12 February 1987. 



William E, Colby 

NSC staff.’® Colby, Carver, and] jagreed that the NIO arrangement 

should be a DCI mechanism capable of supporting the NSC staff in all its 
areas of concern and endeavor. They also agreed that the NIOs* responsi- 
bilities should include CIA operational activity, the CIA^s Operations 
Center, the Clandestine Service Duty Officers, CIA’s officers detailed to 
the White House Situation Room, the Agency’s Presidents Daily Brief, 
and the DO’s Intelligence Watch.” They agreed that ONE would disappear 
in the process, to be superseded by a dozen or so senior “referents,” some 
geographical, some functional. By the time the new organization came into 
being on 1 October 1973, the titles of these new officers had been changed 
to “National Intelligence Officers.” This vision of Colby’s amounted to 
major surgery, not just modification of existing structures and procedures. 

In establishing this new system, Colby kept certain key purposes in 
mind. Foremost was that of responding to President Nixon’s November 
1971 charge to the DCI to take a more leading role in improving US 
national intelligence. Colby maintained that this was “the basic reason” 
why he had established the new NIO system. To do this, he sought to 
improve the way National Intelligence Estimates were produced, bringing 
the Intelligence Community more fully into the estimative process and 
stressing clarity of view (including dissents) rather than consensus, . so that 
policymakers could better appreciate the identity and nature of substantive 
disagreements within the Intelligence Community. In particular, he sought 
to maintain close, continuing contact with specialists throughout the intelli- 
gence and policymaking communities.^^ • 

Colby saw this latter function, of considerably enhanced contact 
between producers and consumers of intelligence, as the most significant 
aspect of the changes brought about by the new NIO system. Traditionally, 
he held, analysts had been kept “carefully insulated from the enthusiasms . 
of the collectors and the preferences of the policymakers,” a philosophy 
that had produced a self-defeating “academic campus away from the center 
of power.” What he desired instead was for the NIOs to become 

National Security Council, Memorandums for William Colby, Executive 
er, “NSC Support Staff,’* 8, 10, and 12 February 1973, CIA History Staff 
recor ds, job 9bB0 Q336R. box 1, folder 6, CIA Archives and Records Center (SecjgtaSyC? 

["ecommendati ons played a substantial role in helping Colby fofmulate his 
thoughts on the new NIO systemj [ater became a senior intelligence aide in the office 

of the Secretary of Defense, and then was for many y ears Staff Directo r of the House 
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. During 1973| then attached to 

the Intelligence Community Staff, also helped perfect the new in iu concept; y ears later he 
became Acting Chairman of the National Intelligence Council | jintervicw by 

Ford, 10 June 1991). 

‘’According to Richard Lehman, these desires of Colby represented “a ballooning of the NIO 
concept” (Richard Lehman, interview by Harold P, Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 
22 October 1986 [hereafter cited as Lehman interview by Ford, 22 October 1986] 

^“Colby, presentation to the Defense Subcommittee, House Appropriations Committee, 
20 February 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 6, CIA Archives 
and Records Center 


White House Pressures 

“integrated intelligence officers.*’ They would not operate in what he 
called “a sterile world of paper,” but in “a world of grimy human beings 
with different cultures, languages, and predilections.”^* 

As his proposal for an NIO system took shape during the course of 
1973, Colby sought to expand the NIOs* responsibilities stih further. He 
wanted his new “referents” to guide intelligence collection tasking for the 
Community; to prepare not only formal Estimates, but also special brief- 
ings for the DCI and top consumers (NSC, Congress, and so forth); and to 
identify customer needs and national policy problems on which national 
intelligence might offer assistance. 

Almost uniformly, however, other elements of the intelligence 
bureaucracy — ^including offices within the CIA itself — fought Colby’s far- 
reaching NIO initiative. Each affected entity tended to defend its own 
prerogatives and to champion the least possible change. For example, the 
Deputy Director for Intelligence, Edward Proctor, argued that his officers’ 
talents would make an NIO for Economics unnecessary,^^ Similarly, 
Charles Briggs, Director of CIA’s Office of Planning, Programming and 
Budgeting, expressed concern over the enormity of the responsibilities pro- 
posed for the individual NIOs and the “uncertain nature” of the structure 
and procedures Colby envisioned.^^ Directorate of Operations officers ob- 
jected strenuously to Colby’s proposal to give the NIOs responsibility for 
all CIA support to the White House. Operational security would suffer, 
they argued, and the new system would needlessly introduce a new level of 
bureaucratic machinery into what had been a smoothly working relation- 
ship between the "White House and the CIA’s Clandestine Service. As ex- 
pressed by Thomas Karamessines, then CIA’s DDO: *A great variety and a 
very considerable volume of the President’s more sensitive business has 

^'Wiiliam Colby, as quoted in Ray Godson, ed.. Intelligence Requirements for the 1980’s: 
Analysis and Estimates (Washington, DC; Transaction Books, 1980), p. 167. 

^^Edward W. Proctor, Deputy Director for Intelligence, Memorandum for William Colby, 
Executive Secretary, CIA Management Committee, “DCI Staff for National Security Council 
Support (DCI/NSCS).” 5 March 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, 
folder 16, CIA Archives and Records Center (S^ffi^Thest DDI objections did not charm 
George Carver, who held that Proctor’s vi^^*‘gulted” Colby’s original proposal. In 
Carver’s view, “Ed is proposing a clerical office of document loggers, request routers, 
product transmitters and tickler file maintainers” (George Carver, Memorandum for James 
Schlesinger, DCI, “Considerations Relevant to the Contemplated New NSC Support 
Structure,” 20 March 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, CIA ^chives 
and Records Center) n i ,^| iifiiyiiiiiiii'T 

“Charles Briggs, DifScfSTPl^ning, Programming and Budgeting, Memorandum for the 
Deputy Director for Management and Services, “Comments on Proposed National 
Intelligence Office,” 11 July 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B(K)336R, box 1, folder 6, 
CIA Archives and Records Center (Segjeff 

William E. Colby 

been conducted in these [DO] channels and, as far as I have been able to 
ascertain, this has been done to the complete satisfaction of Dr. Kissinger, 
General Haig and the staff there. 

During these months of mid-1973, Colby kept ONE’s officers in the 
dark, uninformed that their Office was soon to disappear. When they 
finally did get wind of what was under way, they understandably voiced 
stronger objections than did any other CIA office. John Huizenga, Director 
of ONE and Chairman of its Board, wrote Colby in June 1973 that 
individual NIOs could not do as good a job as ONE’S Board of National 
Estimates in ensuring that all views within the Community received a fair 
and objective hearing and in adjudicating those views for the DCI. 
Huizenga strongly believed that, without a highly skilled in-house esti- 
mates staff, the quality of drafting would decline. In his view, a new DCI 
would be ill advised to disassemble proven units at the outset of his tenure, 
before he had a chance to discover their real strengths and weaknesses, as 
well as his own needs. Huizenga concluded: 

My personal philosophy about organizations is that structures matter less 
than the people in them, and that the quality of perfomance owes far more 
to the style and impact of leadership than to any particular set of organiza- 
tional arrangements. I would judge from my conversations with Schlesinger 
that he agrees with this.^ 

ONE on 

U nmoved by Huizeng a’s arguments, Colby also rejected the views on 

then a member of the Board of Estimates and 
kter the first NIU tor East Asian Affairs. Graham emphasized that, if the 
NIOs became close to policymakers, they would lose their objectivity as 
professional intelligence officers and become policy advocates. He also ar- 
gued that the NIO scheme would place too much substantive authority in 
the hands of individual officers. They would not have the advantage of col- 
legial input from their fellow NIOs and would, by their senior status and 
forcefulness- be able to cow junior-ranking representatives from other 

— .. I 1 n_ 

agencies of the Intelligence Community. 

Irecalls, “Colby did call 

^^Xhoraas Karamessines, Deputy Director for Operations, Memorandum for James 
Schlesinger, DCI, “Proposed Headquarters Notice on the Office of Deputy to the Director for 
the National Security Council,” 21 February 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B0Q336R, box 1, folder 6, CIA Archives and Records Center 

“John Huizenga, Chairman, Board of National. Estimates, Memorandum for William Colby, 
Executive Secretary, CIA Management Committee, “Thoughts on ONE’S Role Summed Up, 
20 June 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 6, CIA Archives and 
Records Center (Cofl6d®ii?gT Before retiring from the Agency on 30 June 1973, Huizenga 
had passed on tliese general comments to Colby; althou^ aware that an NIO system was 
being contemplated, Huizenga was unaware that by this time Colby’s new system was fairly 
advanced and fully on track. 

I C01330171 


White House Pressures 

me in, and listened to my arguments. ... He was noncommittal, however, 
and when our conversation was over I had no idea what impact I had made 
on him, if any.”^^ 

Such opposition from within CIA weighed little, since Colby’s NIO 
proposal had received positive responses from Henry Kissinger. The lat- 
ter’s assistant for intelligence matters, Andrew Marshall, wrote Colby in 
July 1973 that he thought the NIO scheme “a very good idea,” and urged 
Colby to take care to pick NIOs who were primarily managers, rather than 
area or production experts, because there would be a tendency for many in- 
telligence officers “to gravitate to production.” Marshall held that the most 
useful contribution the new NIOs could make would be aggressive 
management. They could use their senior position to improve the coordina- 
tion of collection and analytic efforts, as well as to link producers to senior 
consumers,^^ George Carver disagreed, telling Colby that the NIOs should 
not be “managers” only, but would have to combine such talents with keen 
analytic knowledge.^* Subsequent practice has validated both views: that is, 
Marshall’s insistence that the NIOs be good managers, and Carver’s cer- 
tainty that a good NIO would have to have substantive depth as well as 
managerial skill. 

By July of 1973, Colby’s NIO initiative was ready for USIB exami- 
nation. Colby presented his NIO proposals to the principals on 2 August, 
inviting them to give their written comments (he did not seek their ap- 
proval, only their advice). He subsequently received their general agree- 
ment, though replete with numerous polite suggestions that the NIOs’ 
responsibilities should be narrower than Colby was recommending. Behind 
these members’ acquiescence, however, lay considerable — and 
understandable — hesitance. This was particularly so in the case of Ray 
Cline, then head of State’s INR who had been CIA’s DDI, and before that 
for many years a senior member of ONE. Even though he gave Colby 
INK’S formal approval, Cline had serious doubts about the proposed new 
system. He privately shared some of these cautions with Colby, telling him 
that he thought the NIO scheme a “dumb idea.” Cline explained that ONE 
represented an estimative apparatus carefully constructed over the years 
that had gained bureaucratic clout and talent. By tossing it out, the DCI 

int erview by Harold P . Ford, summaiy notes, Washington, DC, 15 February 1987 
l^nereane r cited as! interview by Ford, 15 February I'l^f | jj~imni]iiiiiiil'TrT 

^dds that another objection he had at the time to the NIO system wants explicit use 
of George Carver’s SAVA as a model. Various and DI officers at the time believed that 
SAVA was prone to telling senior policymakers what SAVA thought they wanted to hear. 
^’Andrew Marshall, National Security Council, Memorandum for William Colby, Executive 
Secretary, CIA Management Committee, “Follow-up on Discussion of 20 July 1973,” 
27 July 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 6, CIA Archives and 
Records Center (Segj®!^, 

^George CarvefT^'Memorandum for William Colby, Executive Secretary, CIA Management 
Committee, “Further Reflections,” 15 August 1973. 


William E. Colby 

would both lose that investment and ran the risk of staffing the new system 
with second-rate people; instead, Colby should “keep something like the 
existing ONE system but reform it in a major way and bring fresh new 
blood in.”^^ 

News of the coming demise of ONE began leaking to the media in 
June and caused some concern that the new NIO system would undermine 
the objectivity of the National Intelligence Estimates. A Washington Post 
news item reported in August that: 

Within the agency’s old-boy network . . . the rumored abolition of the 
Office of National Estimates is regarded as a serious blow to the indepen- 
dence and integrity of the intelligence-estimating process. . . . Colby is 
now the man in the middle.^® 

Throughout those weeks Colby, the man in the middle, kept the NSC 
staff au courant with the NIO proposal’s progress. In response, Andrew 
Marshall informed Colby on 5 September that “all reactions” at the NSC 
staff were favorable.^’ Having received this informal White House ap- 
proval, Colby, now DCI, announced on 3 October the formal implementa- 
tion of the NIO system. He spelled out the NIOs’ responsibilities, named 
George Carver chairman of the NIOs, and indicated that this system would 
replace the Board and Office of National Estimates as well as the Special 
Assistant for Vietnam Affairs (SAVA).^^ 

On 2 6 October, Colby appointed hi s first NIOs, al l CIA officers:| 
(USSR an d Eastern Europe) 

(Southeast Asia),| 

(Western Europe), 
^(Middle East and 

Islamic Worid)| (Latin Amenca), and James Gritchfield 

(Energy MattersV Colby Msufea~^USIB that candidates from elsewhere in 
the government and from private life were also currently under considera- 
tion and would be welcomed as NIOs. He also informed USIB that on 
1 November 1973 the Office of National Estimates, the Board of National 

”CIine interview by Ford, 31 March 1988. Cline recalls that Kissinger and Schlesinger “felt 
that the ONE people had been in place too long and in any event didn’t really understand the 
real world. Henry and Jim had a point, but they were greatly overstating it. The problem was, 
none of the three principal officers involved in creating the NIO system — neither Schlesinger, 
Kissinger, nor Colby — ^really understood these problems too well” (ibid). Cline, then head of 
INR, knew the estimates business well: in addition to having twice been a CIA Chief of 
Station, he had served as ONE’s first Staff Chief, had played a major role in recruiting its 
original staff, had held senior positions in ONE for some years, and then had been CIA’s 

^The Washington Post, 28 August 1973. 

^‘Andrew Marshall, National Security Council, Memorandum for William Colby, DCI, “NSC 
Reaction to the Plan for National Intelligence Officers,” 5 September 1973, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, CIA Archives and Records Center 
^William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for USIB Principals, “National Intelligence Officers,” 
3 October 1973, attachment 3 to USIB-M-651, CIA History Staff records, job 9QB00336R, 
box I, folder 6, CIA Archives and Records Center (Sggjsat^ 


White House Pressures 

Estimates, and SAVA would be abolished, their responsibilities to be 
assumed by the new D/DCI/NIO, George Carver, “until other alternate 
arrangements are made.”^^ 

When finally organized in October, the NIO system remarkably 
resembled the scheme Colby had originally proposed In announcing the 
new system, Colby indicated that the NIOs’ “primar>^ function” would be 
their contact with opposite number officers in the policymaking and intelli- 
gence communities: the NIOs were to have “extensive informal direct con- 
tacts” with senior officers in the Community and elsewhere, covering 
functional as well as geographic areas. Further, instead of heading USEB’s 
existing committees (Guided Missiles Astronautics Intelligence Committee 
[GMAIC], Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee [JAEIC], and 
others), the NIOs would be responsible for identifying customer needs, 
evaluating product and program effectiveness, and clearing up uncertainties 
requiring collection guidance, intelligence production, and national policy 
problems. Significantly, in informing USIB and CIA of his new system, 
Colby carefully ignored the touchy question of the degree to which the 
NIOs would have responsibility over clandestine operational matters.^'* 

In reality, the NIOs’ responsibilities were not those accorded by 
Colby’s official announcement, but those subsequently worked out in ac- 
tual practice. In any case, most of the functions that Colby had originally 
proposed to include in the new NIOs’ reponsibilities — such as the 
Operations Room, the President’s Daily Brief, or the DO’s intelligence 
watch — were never transferred to the NIOs. The changes that occasioned 
the greatest difficulty were those calling for NIQ activity in areas previ- 
ously the monopoly of CIA operations officers. In practice, NIO responsi- 
bilities with respect to the DO world came to differ in each case, depending 
on the individual NIO’s interests, style, and reputation in the DO. Some 
NIOs wanted or had little contact with clandestine issues. Others tried to 
baige in and were held at arm’s length. Still other NIOs worked fairly har- 
moniously with their DO colleagues. For better than two years, George 
Carver and certain of his NIOs gained a much larger role than ONE 
officers had ever had in vetting proposed DDO Covert Activities (CAs). As 
late as October 1975, Colby asked for individual certification of each 
DO/foreign operation “not solely intended for obtaining necessary intel- 

"William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for the USIB, 26 October 1973. USIB-D-13.4/11 

’William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for William Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, 
‘‘Authorization To Undertake Foreign Operations Which Are Not Solely intended for 
Obtaining Necessary Intelligence,” 23 October 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, folder 16, CIA Archives and Records Center George Carver, 

Memorandum for all NIOs, “Review Responsibilities,” 24 October 1975, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B(X3336R, box 2, folder 16, CIA Archives and Records Center 



William E. Colby 

After Colby’s tenure as DCl, however, NIO activities concerning 
covert operations and other DO endeavors generally tended to atrophy. In 
addition, the responsibilities for guiding collection and evaluating the 
effectiveness of the intelligence product and program gradually passed to 
the Intelligence Community Staff. With few exceptions, the NIOs’ overall 
responsibilities narrowed in the years that followed, essentially limiting 
them to contact with senior policymaking consumers and the production of. 
coordinated national intelligence. 

In all, Colby’s NIO system proved a positive, significant accomplish- 
ment. It ended the long existence of the Board of National Estimates, 
Although the Board had for many years made good marks for professional, 
dispassionate inquiry, it had declined in vigor, acuity, and influence. The 
concerns voiced at the outset of the new NIO system, that ONE’S passing 
might corrupt subsequent US national intelligence, have, with only a few 
exceptions, proved unfounded. The NIO system founded by DCIs 
Schlesinger and Colby has remained very much alive and well, further 
strengthened in 1980 by its reorganization as the National Intelligence 
Council (NIC). The old ONE can be said to have had certain advantages 
over the NIC, but, overall, the NIO system has the potential for providing 
more responsive and relevant national intelligence services than could the 
ONE system. 

It must be added that Colby could have been less abrupt in the way 
that he wrapped up the old ONE. Keeping these officers in the dark, he 
presented them with a fait accompli, and then rather ungracefully moved 
them out. Colby used the same abrupt style a year later when he fired 
CIA’s counterintelligence chief, James Angleton. 

Key Intelligence Questions (KIQs) 

Apart from establishing the NIOs, the management initiative Colby 
pushed hardest to introduce was a process known as Key Intelligence 
Questions (KIQs), a scheme to improve the existing — and inefficient- 
intelligence requirements system. This idea was uniquely Colby’s, a fuUer 
development of a system for collection and evaluation that he had 
fashioned while Director of the Civilian Operations Revolutionary 
Development Staff (CORDS) in Vietnam. In a general sense, Colby be- 
lieved that instituting the KIQs would tend to enlarge the DCI’s influence 
over the Intelligence Community, which in fact had always been limited, 
especially with respect to the Department of Defense and military intelli- 
gence. In specific terms, Colby felt that the KIQs system would replace an 
enormous paper exercise, the existing requirements process, with a simpler 
set of questions about the key problems on which the Intelligence 

White House Pressures 


Community should concentrate, the KIQs system would divide responsi- 
bilities for the needed resources among the various intelligence agencies. 
And, most significantly, the KIQs system would place the consumers rather 
than the producers of intelligence in the position of defining the key items 
to be collected. 

At the time, Maj. Gen. Daniel Graham, Colby’s deputy for the 
Intelligence Community, succinctly characterized Colby’s IQQs system as 
an effort to break through the usual catalogue-type requirements and in- 
volve key customers by requiring them to state precisely their near-term 
needs. According to Graham, this system was not an attempt to identify all 
major intelligence concerns or to take the place of NIEs or other normal 
Community production efforts. Rather, “the KIQ list will be dynamic with 
questions added and deleted as user interest dictates ... we intend to 
hold the number of KIQs to a practicable level.”^^ George Carver cau- 
tioned, however, that the KIQs would never be useful as a management 
tool, if they tried to enumerate everything a senior analyst or even senior 
official at the policy level would like to know about any given subject or 
area. Instead, they would have to distill the questions of paramount impor- 
tance. The KIQs, said Carver, “must be phrased with some precision in 
language. . . . 'The Arab-Israeli Situation,’ for example, is not a 
KIQ. . . . ‘Identification of Arab Terrorist Plans To Attack US Citizens 
or Property’ can function as a KIQ.”^’ 

Colby began his KIQs effort even before becoming DCI, and, by 
mid-September 1973, three weeks after assuming office, he had gained 
Andrew Marshall’s approval at the White House. On 25 September, 
President Nixon wrote Colby, “I am particularly pleased that your objec- 
tives clearly comprise a program to accomplish the long-term goals I out- 
lined in my directive of November 1971. ... I approve of this [KIQ] 
augmentation.”^* After checking the idea and details with USIB, Colby on 
4 January 1974 issued the first formal set of KIQs — some 30 broadly stated 

No sooner had Colby set the bureaucratic wheels in motion to perfect 
this new scheme, however, than he ran into widespread resistance- — 
especially from the DDO, CIA’s Comptroller (John lams), the DIA, and 
Assistant Secretary of Defense Albert C. Hall. Their major criticisms 

^‘Maj. Gen. Daniel Graham, Deputy to the DCI for the Intelligence Community, 
Memorandum for William Colby, DCI, “Talking Paper: KIQs,” 30 October 1973, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 9, CIA Archives and Records Center. 
^’George Carver, Deputy to the DCI for National Intelligence, Memorandum for Maj. Gen. 
Jack Thomas, IC Staff, “NIO Comments on Key Intelligence Questions,” 7 December 1973, 
CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 9, CIA Archives and Records 
Center (S paxaeff 

“PresiclSit Nixon, letter to WOliam Colby, DCI, 25 September 1973, as cited in Attachment, 
USIB-D-22.1/7, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2,. folder 16, CIA Archives 
and Records Center (Unclassified). 


William E. Colby 

were that the KlQs were too broad to be useful, would circumvent the 
established USIB Collection Committees, and would become vast paper 
exercises. In addition, for US military offices, the KIQs would be much 
less relevant and precise than their existing requirements systems. 
Undaunted by these criticisms, Colby pushed his KIQs idea, unchanged, 
into operation.^® 

The warnings Colby received proved prophetic. The KIQs’ lot was 
not a happy one. By the time Colby left office in early 1976, his KIQs sys- 
tem was virtually dead. In May of that year, George Carver told the IC 
Staff that the KIQs simply had not worked: “We have made an honest 
try . . . but the KIQs are simply not adequate in concept or content to be 
of much real value in illuminating resource allocation options or decisions. 
Colby wanted us to square the circle. We have, in effect, shown what 
mathematicians have long known, namely, that the circle cannot be 
squared. Later in 1976, Richard Lehman, having succeeded Carver as 
chairman of the NIOs, ensured the KIQs’ demise."*^ The last set of KIQs 
was published in October 1976, and the system was scrapped soon there- 

There are many reasons why Colby’s KIQs system failed. There had 
been several attempts over the years to simplify the many inherent 
problems in intelligence requirements, especially the tendency for collec- 
tors to drive the requirements and the general inability of senior 
policymaking consumers to give meaningful collection guidance. But like 
these previous efforts, the KIQs system, too, ended up as a paper chase. No 
one was really enthusiastic about this new scheme except Colby. To suc- 
ceed, the KIQs system needed the enthusiastic support of the Department 
of Defense, by far the largest player in allocating intelligence resources. 
This never developed. 

Once the KIQs effort was launched, moreover, those working to per- 
fect it were largely intelligence officers; few policymakers became 
involved. There was much foot-dragging within CIA, and Colby’s key 

”John D. lams, Comptroller, Memorandum for Director, Management, Planning and 
Resource Review Group, IC Staff, ‘'KIQ Evaluation Process (KEP),” 18 March 1974, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 9, CIA Archives and Records Center 
_ff!nnfirliniti<i]l- William E. Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, Memorandum for 
William Colby, DCI, “The KIQ/KEP Process,” 15 September 1974, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 9, CIA Archives and Records Center^§ja«rtfJ; William 
Clements, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Letter to William Colby, DCI, 20 April 1974, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box I, folder 9, CIA Archives and Records Center 
(Segj^i^ “Discussion of Key Intelligence Questions Evaluation Process (KEP),“ at USIB 
of 14 March 1974: XJSIB-M-663, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, 
CIA Archives and Records Center 

“’^George Carver, Deputy to the DCffor National Intelligence, Memorandum for Clarence W. 
Baier, “27 April 1976 Draft Study Entitled ‘The Intelligence Community’s Performance 
Against the Key Intelligence Questions for FY 1975,*” 27 May 1976, CIA Histc^ Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 9, CIA Archives and Records Center 
‘“Lehman interview by Ford, 22 October 1986. 



White House Pressures 

players in the scheme, the NIOs, were skeptical and subordinated their 
KIQs. efforts to what they considered to be other, more significant NIO 
responsibiUties. In the White- House, Henry Kissinger chose not to become 
heavily engaged, while at the apex of national intelligence and policymak- 
ing, President Nixon’s attention in 1973-74 was increasingly diverted 
by matters of infinitely greater policy and political consequence. To have 
any significant impact, the KIQs system needed the sustained interest 
of the Community’s best senior officers. Instead, responsibilities down the 
line for execution often ended up with jmuor or sometimes journeyman 
officers. The result therefore came to resemble the bureaucratic make-work 
Colby had sought to avoid in the first place. As the White House’s Andrew 
Marshall later concluded, “I just never saw those things having 
a lot of effect, and so I remain pretty skeptical about what the KIQs 

Management by Objectives 

A companion major project that Colby pushed vigorously was 
Management by Objectives (MBOs). This management tool predated DCI 
Colby’s tenure, but he enthusiastically pushed it once he became Director. 
Roy Ash, a forceful businessman President Nixon brought in to head the 
Office of Personnel Management (0PM), had initiated the MBO scheme 
throughout the government in 1972, but DCIs Helms and Schlesinger had 
done little with it. Colby, however, long given to management details, 
quickly set out to weave MBOs into his family of administrative tools. By 
the time he was sworn in as DCI, Colby’s MBO approach included several 
efforts: Perspectives (a DCI analytic look at the future world environment 
likely to confront US intelligence and policymaking), Colby’s Objectives 
for the Intelligence Coitimunity for FY 1975 , and the KIQs, as^well as pro- 
posed new budget procedures for the Intelligence Community. 

Like his experience with the KIQs, Colby’s enthusiasm for 
Management by Objectives met immediate, widespread opposition. Even 
before he became DCI, his announced intent to take this approach was 

"^Andrew Marshall, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 
22 December 1986 (hereafter cited as Marshall interview by Ford, 22 December 1986) 

"George Carver, Deputy to the DCI for National Intelligence. Memorandum for Maj. Gen. 
Jack Thomas, IC Staff, “NIO Comments on Key Intelligence Questions," 7 December 1973, 
CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 9, CIA Archives and Records 

“John Barnet, Jr., Planning Staff/OPPB. Memorandum for the Record, “Comments on 
Proposed IC Staff Operating Plan for CY 1973,” 9 May 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 1, folder 13, CIA Archives and Records Center fjj,)1rTlinirt»mii I'lllll'lli il 

William E. Colby 

shaq)ly questioned by CIA’s budget staff, which warned it would be slow 
and cumbersome, likely to result in “a massive, unwieldy, and constantly 
intrusive bureaucratic system. Once again, such skeptics proved 
prescient. The MB Os played only a modest role in the operations and 
intelligence Directorates, In the DS&T, they were merged with preexisting 
management tools. The MBOs enjoyed more use within die administrative 
Directorate (DM&S, later DA), where MBO-type procedures played a 
continuing role for a decade following Colby’s tour as DCI. Overall, 
however, the MBOs never came to exert a significant role in US intelli- 
gence at large, chiefly because each of the Intelligence Community’s 
components already had its own management systems and procedures that 
better fit its distinctive needs. 

In a retrospective study in 1976, the CIA’s Inspector General (IG), 
Donald E Chamberlain, concluded that, even though the MBO system had 
in certain respects brought greater management precision, Colby’s heavy 
schedule had precluded the deep personal DCI involvement manadatory for 
such a program’s success. In Chamberlain’s view, this had resulted in a 
lower level of interest in the system than might otherwise have been the 
case. Observing that there was still much uncertainty about what MBO 
meant and what use MBO techniques should enjoy, Chamberlain concluded 
that there had developed “a widespread view” in the Agency that MBOs 
were just another redundant management chore, not to be taken seriously.^^ 

Office of Political Research 

Centrally concerned to improve intelligence analysis, Colby estab- 
lished an Office of Political Research (OPR) on 1 September, just a few 
days before being formally sworn in as DCI. The impetus for such an effort 
came largely from Kissinger’s NSC Staff, which wanted greater in-depth 
analytical intelligence support for top-level decisionmakers. There was also 
some pressure to find useful occupation for the staff of the just-abolished 
ONE. At its outset, OPR was made up of 20 professionals drawn from the 
ONE Staff, 12 from the DDEs former Special Research Staff, and a handful 
of officers recruited elsewhere.'"^ OPR’s charter directed it to prepare 
studies going beyond current intelligence, which would give senior con- 
sumers a fuller understanding of many of the complex problems affecting 

^*Donald Chamberlain, Inspector General, Memorandum for George Bush, DCI, "Manage- 
ment by Objectives in the Central Intelligence Agency,” 9 March 1976, CIA History Staff 
records. Job 90B00336R, box 1, folder 13, CIA Archives and Records Center 
"•^As OPR’s Director, Colby named Ramsey Forbush, who on 1 July 1973 had succeeded John 
Huizenga as Acting Director of ONE. OPR’s Deputy Chief was the author of this shidy, who 
had headed the DDFs Special Research Staff (SRS), a small group that prepared in-depth 
studies concerning the USSR, China, Sino-Soviet relations, and Vietnam. 

White House Pressures 

US security. Subject areas that OPR examined in some depth during 
Colby’s DCI tenure included the USSR, China, the Law of the Sea, politi- 
cal aspects of world resource problems, and special political science 
methodologies. Colby gave OPR good marks and good feedback. Not too 
long after his tenure as DCI ended, however, the unit was disbanded as part 
of a broader, if iU-fated, bureaucratic reorganization of the Directorate of 
Intelligence in 1976-77. 

Intelligence Community Postmortems 

In a further effort to improve the intelligence product, Colby ordered 
postmortems prepared on certain past performances of the Intelligence 
Community. At his direction, spark ed particularly by the Middle East 

warning failures of October 1973, the: 

iof the 

Intelligence Community Staff prepared seven postmortems over a three- 
year period. These concerned the 1973 Arab-Israeli war; the anti-Allende 
coup in Chile in 1973; India’s 1974 explosion of a nuclear device; Israel’s 
West Bank campaign in October 1973; the Cyprus crisis of 1974; prior esti- 
mates of Egyptian military capabilities; and the Mayaguez incident in 
1976. As the first postmortems ever made at the Community-wide level, 
they were candid and well regarded by recipients at the White House and 

New Analytic Methodologies 

Colby also pushed the use of new analytic methodologies. Prodded 
especially by the White House’s Andrew Marshall, who strongly held that 
the Intelligence Community was missing a lot of bets by not making more 
use of methodologies and practices then popular in academia and the think 
tank world, Colby expanded previous Agency efforts along this line. He 
established several small offices, particularly within the IC Staff and CIA’s 
Office of Research and Development (ORD/DS&T), devoted entirely to 
methodological experimentation. Much of this effort pertained to net 
assessments, another of Andrew Marshall’s responsibilities at the NSC, and 
involved considerable Agency contact with DOD’s Advanced Research 
Projects Agency (AREA). Certain constructive insights resulted from some 
of ORD’s studies of economic resources. Progress proved less marked in 
the field of political analysis, where, in spite of Marshall’s enthusiasm, it 
was inherently more difficult to make cohesive analytical bricks out of 
often strawless data. There was also little progress in the field of net 
assessments, where DOD offices consistently held intelligence people at 


William E, Colby 

arm’s length regarding US inputs. Colby also encouraged more competitive 
analysis and encouraged the airing of unorthodox interpretations and 
devil’s advocate evaluations, especially where they took the form of 
challenges by younger officers. Although Colby resisted pressures from the 
President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) for A Team-B 
Team types of competitive analysis, he eventually agreed to a trial, an exer- 
cise he bequeathed to his successor as DCI, George Bush.'” 

National Intelligence Survey 

While experimenting with the new, Colby felt free to terminate the 
old, such as the National Intelligence Survey (NTS) program. Pressures had 
been growing under DCIs Helms and Schlesinger to end the NIS program, 
.a Community-wide endeavor that, in various formats since World War II,' 
had been preparing basic, encyclopedic intelligence on many of the world’s 
countries. Pressures for killing this program arose chiefly from its relative 
lack of budgetary priority compared with higher attention assigned world 
crises and from widely shared dismay in the Intelligence Community at the 
substantial time and paperwork the NIS program demanded. DCI 
Schlesinger recommended killing the program, and, by the time Colby 
bec^e DCI, CIA was contributing about 75 percent of the NIS effort. It is 
ironic that the death of this admirable program came just at a time when 
numerous changes in procedures and presentation had significantly 
improved the NIS. 

FOCUS Program 

With an eye to improving the Intelligence Community’s intelligence 
product, Colby initiated the FOCUS Program. This scheme entaUed select- 
ing target countries for which the DCI, the NIOs, Community representa- 
tives, and the USIB’s Human Services Committee (HSC) would evaluate 
the US Mission’s intelligence reporting. The program sought to develop an 
assessment mechanism whereby the DCI could give Chiefs of Mission his 
frank views on the total Mission reporting."*' This FOCUS Program 
survived for the better part of a decade. During its lifetime the NIOs 
chaired periodic meetings of representatives from all the USIB agencies, 
and the HSC amassed a long list of examined and reexamined countries. 
The FOCUS effort lost steam after Colby’s tenure, however, partly because 

"See discussion in chapter 12 of the A Team-B Team episode. 

“David Hartman (ICS.^C), Enclosure to Memorandum for Members of HSC’s Executive 
Steering Group, “Clarification of the FOCUS Approach,” 19 December 1974, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 1, CIA Archives and Records Center^ggefelf 


White House Pressures 


of the time and effort consumed, but largely because the State Department 
took a dim view of a DCFs intrusion into the purposes and priorities of US 
Missions abroad/^ 

Changes in DO Procedures 

In addition to concern for improving the intelligence product, Colby 
changed many procedures within the Directorate of Operations. He cut 
down the size and responsibilities of many DO Staffs, better integrated the 
DO into the rest of the Agency, and allotted an added percentage of funds 
for operational costs, at the expense of housekeeping services. Colby also 
improved Operating Directives (ODs) throughout the DO. by giving more 
emphasis to the Agency’s larger goals and less to the specific concerns of 
given divisions or stations. He reorganized the DO’s Near East Division to 
bring CIA’s operating structure into closer line with the State Department’s 

organizational structure and transferred to the DO’s NE Division nortnin of 


1 i 

1 1 uoiDy also streamiinea some or me Agency's pai 

sLiuciures and sharply cut back CIA’s air proprietaries. 


Administrative and Organizational Changes 

Colby also initiated a number of administrative and organizational, as 
well as analytical and operational, changes throughout the CIA. He im- 
proved the DCFs Management Committee. To this group, which DCI 
Schlesinger had established, Colby added an ad hoc committee of the 
number-two officers in each of CIA’s Directorates, commissioning them to 
propose solutions to complex special problems. He also set up a new 
Office of Comptroller, abolishing the rather unwieldy existing Office of 
Planning, Programming and Budgeting. Aware that the Agency’s Equal 
Employment Opportunity (EEO) performance was then one of the poorest 
in the US Government, Colby prodded CIA to improve its EEO record. 
Although he set up an EEO group to articulate new standards and proce- 
dures for improving the status of the Agency’s female and minority 
officers, these efforts brought only modest advances. Colby also improved 
reference and recordkeeping services by greater integration of records 
data into CIA’s central computer system and by eliminating some of the 
duplication in existing records and reference services. 

‘*^One notable example: following a FOCUS recommendation that the US Mission in Tokyo 
should do considerably more political reporting on political and social trends in Japanese 
society, State’s Inspector General sharply rejected this finding, maintaining that the Tokyo 
Mission should not be distracted from its principal purpose, representing US interests in 

See detailed discussion in chapter 6 of the strengths and weaknesses of CIA’s counterintelli- 
gence effort. 


William E. Colby 


Agency-Wide Operations Center 

Focusing on CIA-wide coordination, Colby changed the Operations 
Center of the DPs OCI into an Agency-wide Operations Center. At Colby’s 
order, each Directorate now maintained a permanent duty officer there. 
New voice and electronic facilities were installed, facilitating communica- 
tion and cooperation with operation centers elsewhere in the Intelligence 
Community. This endeavor has had positive and lasting results, and (with 
numerous post-Colby improvements) has remained in effect ever since. 

Intelligence Community’s Warning CapabUities and “Alert Memos” 

Concerned to heighten intelligence’s input to policymakers at senior 
levels, Colby improved the Intelligence Community’s warning capabilities. 
Kissinger held that strategic warning was less a military than a political 
problem, Colby agreed and called upon the Intelligence Community to alert 
the White House to world dangers at an early stage."*’ In revitalizing the 
USIB’s Watch Committee, Colby recommended instituting a Special 
Assistant to the DCI for Warning. This new improvement took a long time 
to work its way through the USIB bureaucracy but was finally consum- 
mated in DCID 1/5 of 18 May 1976, shortly after DCI Colby left office. 

Colby also established special new “Alert Memos.” Written under 
the initiative and supervision of the National Intelligence Officers, these 
memos alerted senior policymakers to special crises brewing. Practice has 
varied since that time, depending on how each DCI has wished to balance 
the warning function and the cry-wolf hazard. 

National Intelligence Bulletin and Daily Information Sununaries 

Colby transformed the Current Intelligence Bulletin (CIB) into the 
National Intelligence Bulletin (NIB). This changed a CIA current intelli- 
gence product into a Community effort.^^ Colby also made provision for 
±e NIB to indicate other agencies’ dissenting opinions. These successful 
innovations have remained basically unchanged ever since,^^ 

’’Marshall interview by Ford, 22 December 1986. 

production staff of the NIB now included non-CIA members, with a DIA officer serv- 
ing as deputy editor. Non-CIA analysts now produced some, though a minority, of the NIB’s 
articles, and in all cases the NIB’s items were coordinated throughout the Community on a 
daily basis. 

.’’One parallel innovation of Colby’s fell flat: producing a current intelligence daily in 
newspaper format. Colby had cherished this idea since his CIA duty in Sweden in the early 
1950’s (Colby, Honorable Men, p. 102). The author of this study was among the officers who 
told Colby in 1973 that his newspaper format idea was not a good one. In any event, this 
experiment did not outlive Colby’s tenure as Director. 



White House Pressures 

Also, Colby improved the daily information summaries prepared for 
NSC by the White House Situation Room (WHSR). Traditionally, the 
WHSR’s small staff had produced such reports from its own substantial 
take of raw information and finished intelligence, supplemented occasion- 
ally by contributions from NSC staff members. Under Colby, CIA’s Office 
of Current Intelligence (OCI) began regularly to contribute relevant items 
to the WHSR’s daily summary. 

Retrospect on Colby’s Managerial Initiatives 

The degree of success of Colby’s managerial initiatives varied sub- 
stantially. Certain of his changes, especially the NIO system, brought sub- 
stantial and lasting improvements, while some of his other initiatives met 
considerable bureaucratic resistance, and some ended up generating more 
paper than progress. Andrew Marshall, a key player in White House-DCI 
efforts to improve US intelligence, giyes Colby credit for responding more 
positively than had DCI Richard Helms to Presidential pressures for 
change, but concludes that Colby’s managerial initiatives had only a “mar- 
ginal” overall effect and resulted in only a few dramatic long-term im- 
provements.^'* That assessment is overly harsh. Colby did recognize the 
need for substantial managerial improvements and energetically went about 
trying to effect such changes. Although he hurt his own cause in some 
respects, ingrained bureaucratic drag throughout the Intelligence 
Community was the chief culprit in frustrating his managerial initiatives. 

"Marshall interview by Ford, 22 December 1986. 



Chapter 5 

Congressional Issues, 1973-1974 

If we don’t do the job now [create a more vigorous Congressional 
oversight] under the present structure . . . then something quite different 
may be established, for the mood of the Congress is undergoing a change. 

Congress and public opinion is in a more challenging mood, not only 
on defense matters, but on intelligence. . . . There are more Congressmen 
and more Senators who want to get into the act. . . . [and] there seems to 
be some public concern, fed by Watergate, that a so-called “CIA mentality” 
has taken hold in the Executive. 

Representative Lucien N. Nedzil4 November 1973' 

Congressional uneasiness over allegations of jpast CIA wrongdoing 
did not suddenly arise with Seymour Hersh's late December 1974 accusa- 
tions of CIA wrongdoing in The New York Times, which we discuss in 
chapter 7.^ Nor did Congressional anxieties begin with the 1975-76 investi- 
gations of US intelligence by the Rockefeller Commission, the Senate’s 
Church committee, and the House’s Pike committee. Even DCI Colby’s 
disclosures of CIA’s “family jewels” excesses did not mark the beginning 
of concern on Capitol Hill with possible CIA wrongdoing. Rather, 
Congressional uneasiness about CIA long predated Colby’s advent as DCI. 
Over the years members of both Houses had introduced numerous bills 
seeking fuller Congressional oversight of intelligence — ^though these efforts 
had usually been killed in committee. But, by the time Colby became DCI, 
Congress was busily prying into alleged CIA involvement in Watergate and 
contemplating greater controls on CIA covert activities. The possibility of 
systematic Congressional oversight of intelligence had at last become a 

‘Representative Lucien Nedzi (D-MI) Chairman, House Armed Services Committee Special 
Subcommittee on Intelligence, remarks to CIA Senior Seminar class, “Oversight or 
Overlook: Congress and the U.S. Intelligence Agencies,” 14 November 1973, as reprinted in 
Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 18 (Summer 1974): 17 
Seymour Hersh, The New York Times, 22 December 1974. 

William E Colby 


As of mid-1973, numerous senior Congressional figures — including 
John S tennis (D-MS), chairman of the Senate Armed Services 
Subcommittee on Intelligence, Lucien Nedzi (D-MI), chairman of the 
House Armed Services Special Subcommittee on Intelligence, and John 
McClellan (D-AR), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee 
on Defense’s Subcommittee on Intelligence Operations — ^were calling for 
special investigations of alleged CIA wrongdoing. Of these, McClellan was 
especially interested in the authority given CIA by the NSC’s secret 
Intelligence Directives (NSCIDs), while Nedzi wished a full review of 
CIA’s charter.^ 

Colby himself was able to do little to alleviate Congress’s concerns. 
From the outset, his relationship with Congress was far more distant 
than the one DCI Helms had enjoyed, and, during his confirmation 
hearings, Colby met some hostility because of his prior association with 
the PHOENIX program in Vietnam.** As a result of questions raised 
about CIA during the various Watergate hearings and during Colby’s 
confirmation, considerable Congressional pressure developed to tighten up 
the Agency’s statutory provisions, “Even among members of our subcom- 
mittees,” as George Cary (CIA’s Acting Legislative Counsel) observed.^ 
Quickly taking note of such Congressional sentiment and after discussing 
this issue with the White House’s Andrew Marshall, Colby in August 1973, 
shortly before becoming DCI, sent Dr. Kissinger a six-page study explain- 
ing the concerns of Congress and recommending certain courses of execu- 
tive action to meet them. These Congressional anxieties concerned alleged 
CIA involvement in domestic activities (CIA and Watergate), possible CIA 
circumvention of the will of Congress (CIA activities in Laos and 
Vietnam), possible Presidential usurpation of constitutional powers (Chile), 
and the question of possible disclosure of intelligence budget figures.^ 

^Congressman Nedzi’s subcommittee held hearings on 11, 16, 17, 21, 24; and 31 May 1973; 
4, 7, 13, 22. and 29 June; 9, 13, 17, 18. 19, and 20 July; 25 and 26 February 1974; 7 March; 
17 June; and 2 July 1974. These many inquiries focused on various allegations of Agency 
misconduct concerning Watergate. Of these 22 separate hearings, Colby attended three: two 
as DDO, on 11 and 16 May. 1973, and one as EK!I on 25 February 1974. The 25 February 1974 
session centered on allegations that, shortly after the original Watergate break-in, a CIA con- 
sultant, Lee Pennington, Jr., had broken into James McCord’s home in order to destroy docu- 
ments that allegedly established a link between McCord and the CIA. 

^Colby, DCI Nomination Hearings, 1973. 

^George Cary, Acting Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “White House 
Meeting with the Legislative Interdepartmental Group,” 31 August 1973, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, CIA Archives and Records Center 
William Colby, DCI-designate, Memorandum for Henry A. Kissinger, A^istant to the 
President for National Security Affairs, “Congressional Pressure To Curtail or Modify CIA’s 
Statutory Authority To Perform Functions Directed by the National Security Council,” 
28 August 1973, CI A History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, CIA Archives 
and Records Center TSOTRT 



Congressional Issues 

In the weeks that followed, Colby met with several heads of the 
Congressional oversight subcommittees. On 27 September, Colby met with 
Senator McClellan to give him information on the NSCIDs. Colby 
explained that there were eight such NSCIDs, that none of them dealt with 
domestic affairs (then the focus of Congressional concern), and that as DCI 
he had begun to prepare a draft statement on these charters. He further 
explained that no existing laws or NSCIDs. required the CIA to keep 
Congress briefed on its activities/ This meeting with McQellan prompted 
Colby to pull together the eight existing NSCIDs into an omnibus NSCID, 
a version of which could be released to the public, and to fashion a new 
NSCID No. 9, which for the first time would deal with US intelligence’s 
domestic activities.^ 

As these initiatives went forward, Colby’s relationships with the 
Congress centered on three principal sets of issues: Senator Howard 
Baker’s certainty of CIA involvement in Watergate, Congress’s passage of 
the Hughes -Ryan amendment, and Colby’s attempts to fashion a new omni- 
bus NSCID. 

Senator Howard Baker, Watergate, and CIA 

Of the numerous Watergate-related initiatives that the House and the 
Senate undertook in 1973-74, the charges that Senator Howard Baker 
(R-TN) leveled against CIA made the greatest demands on the new DCFs 
time and attention. For months Colby and Agency officers furnished Baker 
with stacks of documents and met on numerous occasions with his rump 
group, the minority staff of .the special Watergate committee chaired by 
Senator Sam Ervin (D-NC). Throughout this process, Baker and his staff 
were convinced that CIA had been considerably more involved in 
Watergate-related activities and coverup than had yet been brought to light. 

In November 1973, Senator Baker began hitting CIA with questions 
about Watergate, many going back to 1972, Indicative of Baker’s frame of 
mind were remarks he made on ABC/TV’s “Issues and Answers” in 
December 1973. When asked if he knew of any more Watergate “bomb- 
shells” still unknown to the public. Baker replied, “There are animals 
crashing around in the forest I can hear them, but I can’t see them.”’ 

’George Cary, Deputy Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Briefing of the 
Intelligence Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on 
27 September 1973,” 27 September 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, 
folder 19, CIA Archives and Records Center 

"These issues are treated later in this chapter. Neither the omnibus NSCID nor NSCID No. 9 
was ever completed. 

^The Washington Post, 31 December 1973. 



William E. Colby 


Following many meetings 
with officers from CIA’s Legis- 
lative Counsel, Baker met per- 
sonally with Colby on 25 January 
and 1 February 1974. On those 
occasions Baker showed particular 
interest in Howard Hunt’s past 
relationship with DCI Heims, in 
Hunt’s reasons for leaving the 
CIA, and in the degree to which 
top CIA management was aware 
of all the activities of its 
employees. Baker also expressed 
interest in whether CIA had in any 
way assisted the so-called Water- 
gate Plumbers, the White House-directed group assigned to plug “leaks.”*® 
At his 1 February meeting with Colby, the Senator voiced suspicions that 
his own residence was under surveillance. According to the account of 
CIA’s Associate Legislative Counsel, Baker “felt that only three people — 
Admiral [Thomas] Moorer [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs], Secretary 
Schlesinger and Mr. Colby — might somehow be involved.”** President 
Nixon had said publicly in May 1973 that, soon after the Watergate 
break-in, he “had been advised” that there was a possibility of CIA in- 
volvement and that an investigation “could lead to the uncovering of 
covert CIA operations totally unrelated to the Watergate break-in.”*^ Now, 
a year later, Senator Baker included Nixon’s remarks in his formal report.*^ 
Following the meetings between Colby and Baker, CIA officers testi- 
fied for six days before closed sessions of Senator Baker’s rump commit- 
tee. In these hearings. Senator Baker and his colleagues raised the same 
questions they had previously discussed at length with CIA officers. At the 
last of these hearings, with Ambassador Richard Helms (recalled from 

AP © 

Senator Howard Baker 

^jAssociatc Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, Meeting with 

Senator Baker, 26 January 1974, CIA History Staff record s^ job 90B00336 R. box 2, folder 19, 

CIA Archives and Records Center rau^ii i inl>iwifff| |r>^piti-v Legislative 

Counsel, Memorandum for the Rccdnl, “Meeting with i>enator Howard H. Baker, Vice 
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities,” 1 February 1974, 
CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2. folder 19, CIA Archives and Records 
Center ( g| |^| Tun liiHTl 

y ^Memorandum for the Record, “Meeting With Senator Baker,” I February 1974. 

^ me Washington Post, 23 May 1973. 

Baker’s report is discussed later in this chapter. 

‘“On 4, 5, 6, 7, and 21 February, and 8 March. 

Congressional Issues 

Tehran) as the star witness, Senator Stuart Symin gton (D-MO) came 

_ I Symington “bearded 

strongly to GIA’s defense. According to[ 

Baker on his motivation, suggesting a personal vendetta against Helms. 

Indeed, Senator Baker’s campaign of charges against the CIA 
encountered considerable skepticism from a broad range of observers. As 
early as January 1974, Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski told a senior CIA 
officer that he had “no idea of the reason behind Senator Baker’s obsession 
with CIA and Watergate.”’^ In March, the The Washington Post com- 
mented that Baker 

has at turns been coy and reserved in discussing his investigation, suggesting 
on the one hand in vague public statements that information yet to .be re- 
vealed may dwarf what is already known about the Watergate affair, but then 
refusing to elaborate on those statements. ... In addition to bringing Nedzi 
to the defense of the CIA, Baker’s probe has dearly annoyed other senior 
Democrats in Congress,*’ 

Similarly, in April, Senator John McClellan told Colby that he was 
not sure that Baker’s investigation had been conducted with proper 
authority.*® In June, Congressman Nedzi told George Cary, CIA’s 
Legislative Counsel, that he was puzzled by the inability of the Senate 
committee chairmen to reason with Baker. Two days later, Sam Dash, 
chief counsel of Senator Ervin’s Watergate committee, told Cary that he 
‘‘personally questioned Baker’s motives,”^® Even President Ford, the head 
of Baker’s own party, later confided that Baker might have been 
“bluffing” at the time in order to relieve some of the pressure on then 
President Nixon. Some of the harshest views of Baker’s charges, 
however, were made by the CIA’s usually mHd-mannered Scott 
Breckinridge (of the Inspector General’s office). He later recalled telling 

^Deputy Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Select committee 

icsiimony— -Ambassador Helms,” 15 March 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, CIA Archives and Records Center-<“ 

^Minutes, DCI’s Morning Meeting, 8 January I9i 

^lA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, CIA Archives and Records Center (Sggwty. 

”r/ic Washington Post, 25 March 1974. 

George Cary, Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “DCI Informal Discussion 
with the Intelligence Operations Subcommittee of Senate Appropriations — 10 April 1974,” 
11 April 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, CIA Archives 
and Records Center 

OLC Journal, 24 June 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, 
CIA Archives and Records Center (^ijiiniiiniiiiinTT 

George Cary, Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Conversation with Sam 
Dash, Chief Counsel, Select committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, re Select com- 
mittee Action on the Baker Report,” 26 June 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, CIA Archives and Records Center 

'President Gerald Ford, remarks to David A. Peterson, PresidenrTDaily Brief CIA officer 
(Peterson, Memorandum for the Record, “President’s Inquiry About Senator Baker and 
CIA,” 29 March 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, CIA 
Archives and Records Center T I ' tiiJUMiM ii i itf ii' . fiwWWIi 

William E. Colby 

Baker’s staff in mid-1974 that the report they were developing on Baker’s 
allegations was dishonest, that it was being done for reasons of politics, 
and that Baker was “the President’s representative on Senator Ervin’s 
[Watergate] committee to do Nixon’s bidding ... the President wanted to 
get CIA in the middle of this thing [Watei^ate],’’^^ 

A prime source of skepticism about Baker’s charges was his close 
association throughout with Watergate figure Charles W. Colson. In March 
1974, columnist Jack Anderson asserted that Baker, “the Senate Watergate 
matinee idol,” was “dealing behind the scenes with embattled ex-White 
House aide Charles W. Colson in a joint effort to implicate the Central 
Intelligence Agency in the Watergate break-in and cover-up.”^^ Baker de- 
nied this. Responding to a 21 March letter of inquiry from Senator Daniel 
Inouye (D-HI) on this score, Baker stated that he had only talked to Colson 
“one time at my request to ask him to confirm or deny certain materials” 
in the Baker subcommittee’s possession.^"^ On 17 June, some two weeks 
before Baker released a formal report of his findings, Colson (by this time 
convicted and on his way to prison) told Congressman Nedzi’s intelligence 
subcommittee that he had learned of CIA’s alleged complicity in Watergate 
from “a Member of the US Senate, when he sat me down in his living 
room in his home and said ‘Chuck, you were set up by the CIA and I can 
prove it.’”“ 

On 23 June 1974, prefacing his remarks by stating that he had now 
become “a witness for Christ,” Colson told the Nedzi subcommittee that in 
January 1974 President Nixon had confided to him that he was on the 
verge of dismissing Colby as DCI because of suspicions that the Agency 
was deeply implicated in Watergate, but had been dissuaded by Secretary 
of State Kissinger and White House aide Alexander Haig. Colson testified 
that President Nixon was nonetheless “convinced” that the Agency had 
been involved in Watergate “up to their eyeballs.” CIA, charged Colson, 
had planned the break-ins at Watergate and the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s 
psychiatrist to discredit the President’s inner circle of advisers, and then 
had “engaged in one helluva good coverup of their own.” Colson then 
added this significant note: that he had read one of the key documents 
relating to Baker’s investigation “last December at the home of Senator 
Howard Baker (R-TN), vice chairman of the Senate Watergate 

®Scott Breckmridge, interview by 
(hereafter cited as Breckinridge interview oy 
^The Washington Post, 19 March 1974. 

^*The Washington Post, 27 March 1974. 

“us Congress, House, Committee on Armed Services, Hearings Before the Special 
Subcommittee on Intelligence, Inquiry Into the Alleged Involvement of the Central 
Intelligence Agency in the Watergate and Ellsberg Matters, 94th Congress, 1st session. May, 
June, July 1973 and February, March, June, July 1974 (hereafter cited as Watergate Hearings, 
1973 and 1974), p. 1,062. 

^The Washington Post, 24 June 1974. 

tape reco rding. Washington, DC, 7 January 1988 
? January 1988)^^Sgfij»^ 



Congressional Issues 

Colby responded formally to Baker’s charges on 28 June. The DCI 
expressed his concern over the tenor of the Senator’s draft report and over 
the fact that Baker’s text reflected few if any of the comments that CIA had 
given Baker. Colby told the Senator that his draft report implied that the 
Agency and its officers “had prior knowledge of and were wittingly 
involved in the break-ins and the coverup.” In Colby’s view, this was sim- 
ply untrue.^’ Despite Colby’s efforts to set the record straight by providing 
Baker voluminous CIA comments and corrections, the Senator issued his 
report, virtually unchanged, on 2 July 1974. It leveled two principal 
charges:, that CIA had had more extensive contacts with the Watergate bur- 
glars than had been, previously acknowledged and that the Agency had 
failed to divulge all that it knew to Federal investigators,^® 

Once again, however. Baker’s charges evoked widepread skepticism. 
Newsweek deemed the report “longer on nods, winks and innuendoes” 
than on facts.^^ The Washington Post, no patsy for the CIA, definitely took 
Baker to task: 

Senator Baker began his investigation by saying that the matter put him in 
mind of “animals crashing around in the forest — ^you can hear them but you 
can’t see them.” Well, you can hear them still. But you still can’t see them. 

All you can see is Mr. Baker crashing after them .... Mr. Baker, we con- 
clude, has done a difficult job unsatisfactorily. He has neither resolved the 
issue he undertook to investigate nor removed doubts about his own ap- 
proach to it. Perhaps it was an effort worth making anyway. But, considering 
the way the effort was made, we’re not even sure there is that much to be 
said for 

In addition, columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak later 
described Baker’s report as having “insinuated much and proved 

Fortunately for Colby and the CIA, time had run out on Senator 
Baker. By the time his report appeared, the Watergate crisis had peaked, 
and just a month later President Nixon resigned in disgrace. Senator 
Baker’s charges were soon forgotten. To Baker’s credit, he did recant two 
years later, stating publicly that the Senate’s Church committee examina- 
tion of ffie record had not substantiated charges that the CIA had been in- 
volved in the “range of events and circumstances known as Watergate.”" 

^Wiliam Colby, Director of Central Intelligence, Letter to Senator Howard Baker, 28 June 1974 
QA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19. CIA Archives and Records 
Center (Unclassified). 

^The Washington Post, 3 July 1974. 

^'"Newsweek, 15 July 1974. 

Washington Post, 11 July 1974. 

^The Washington Post, 27 March 1975. 

Remarks by Senator Howard Baker, US Congress, Senate Select Committee to Study 
Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (Church committee). Final 
Report, Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Book II, April 1976 (hereafter 
cited as Church committee, Book II), p. 387. 




William E. Colby ' 

Overall, the importance of Senator Baker’s investigation did not lie 
in his failure to substantiate his suspicions of CIA, or in the questionable 
company he had kept in the process. Rather, his charges were simply the 
most extreme and persistent of the many Congressional attempts of the 
time to probe CIA and US intelligence. Senator Baker’s charges helped 
fuel smouldering suspicions that broke into open flame at the end of 1974, 
when journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that the CIA had been guilty of 
serious illegalities.” 

Congress and Covert Activities: The Hughes-Ryan Amendment 

No sooner had the Baker-Colson allegations against CIA fizzled out than 
Colby and the Agency had to stave off Congressional attacks from another 
quarter. These attacks sprang chiefly fiom new allegations that the CIA had par- 
ticipated in the Nixon administration’s sub rosa operations against the leftwing 
government of Salvador AUende in Chile. The Congressional result of these 
concerns was the December 1974 enactment of the Hughes-Ryan amendment to 
the Foreign Assistance Act 

The principal detonator touching off the Hughes-Ryan amendment was 
Congressman Michael Harrington’s allegation, less than a week after Colby 
was sworn in as DCI, that CIA had been involved in the overthrow and death 
of Chile an President Allende. At Harrington’s urging, the House Foreign 
Affairs Subcommittee on Inter-American Affairs on 11 October held a hearing 
on these issues. At this hearing, Colby told the subcommittee that meaningful 
testimony would require a closed executive session. This, however, did not 
occur until April 1974, when Colby appeared before the House Armed 
Services Special Subcommittee on Intelligence, chaired by Congressman 
Nedzi. There Director Colby “had no problem” in fielding questions on what 
the Agency’s 1970 Track I covert operations in CMe had been. He did not, 
however, reveal the existence of the supersecret Track II operations that 
Nixon on 15 September 1970 had ordered CIA to take.’" Now, immediately 
follovidng this April 1974 closed session, Colby took Chairman Nedzi aside 
and privately informed him of the origins and nature of Track II.’ 

News of Colby’s secret testimony on Track I to the Nedzi subcommittee 
soon leaked to the press and raised a storm. Congressman Harrington, who 
was responsible for this leak, maintained that Colby had told the subcommit- 
tee that CIA’s aim had been to “destabilize’’ the Allende candidacy and 

"These questions are discussed in chapter 7. 

^Track I operations consisted of a number of covert activities fully authorized by the 
40 Committee, that sensitive interagency body of senior officials established to examine pro- 
posed covert operations. By contrast, as we explain in chapter 8, Track II s efforts, directed 
by President Nixon without the knowledge of the 40 Committee, State, or Defense, comprised 
even more sensitive activities to prevent Allende from becoming President of Chile. 

^^Colby, Honorable Afen, pp. 303-304, 380-381. 


Congressional Issues 

presidency. Colby denied using this term and has written that, after his tes- 
timony was leaked, he tried to set the record straight, but to no avail.^^ The 
term “destabilization” stuck. In the weeks that followed, according to Colby, 
“various tidbits” on earlier QA operations in Chile that certain CIA officers 
leaked to the press further fed Congressional anxieties. Colby believes that 
these insider leaks resulted from the “family jewels” investigations 
Schlesinger and Colby had earlier initiated within CIA^^ 

Now, in mid- 1974, Congress quickly reacted to the press leaks that 
CIA had conducted covert activities (Track I) in Chile. In September and 
October, various restrictive bills were introduced in both Houses of 
Congress, the most extreme of which was an amendment initiated by 
Senator James Abourezk (D-SD) to prohibit the government from conduct- 
ing any covert options. It was voted down, 68 to 17. 

Adding to CIA's woes^ Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, now 
leveled similar attacks on the Agency in The CIA and the Cult of 
Intelligence, a book he coauthored. CIA officials had sought for months to 
sanitize the book, by judicial action, with mixed results. In its final form, it 
appeared with gaps (and boldface type) indicating those portions CIA had 
successfully (and unsuccessfully) sought to delete by court order.^® 
Coinciding with this flap, the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee recommended bringing contempt charges against former DCI 
Helms for having misled the committee on Chilean questions during the 
1973 hearings for confirmation as Ambassador to Iran.^^ Unfortunately, the 
new President, Gerald Ford, also chose this moment to call further atten- 
tion to the Agency’s plight. Although denying any CIA involvement in the 
coup that had overthrown Allende and led to his death, President Ford 
declared that the general concept of conducting covert activities was justi- 
fied and that the Agency’s earlier secret operations had been in the “best 
interests” of the Chilean people.'^^ One last unexpected blow was a 
29 October Harris Poll, which reported that fully 60 percent of the 
American people believed that the CIA should not have tried to destabilize 
the government of Chile, while only 18 percent believed CIA’s alleged 
action justified.**’ 

The most significant Congressional response to the furor over covert 
operations was an amendment that Senator Harold Hughes (D-IA) 
introduced to the Foreign Assistance Act, then under Congressional 

’^Colby, Honorable Men, pp. 381-382. 

Colby interview by Ford, 3 February 1987. Schlesinger and Colby had directed employees to 
let them know of any past instances of CIA misconduct or borderline activities. The resulting 
list was the “family jewels,” These questions are discussed in chapter 9. 

‘Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (New York; 
^opf, 1974). See especially authors’ prefaces. 

^^These questions are discussed in chapter 8. 

^“TTie Washington Post, 17 September 1974. 

The Washington Post, 30 October 1974. 


William E, Colby 

scrutiny. This amendment obliged the President, before authorizing any 
“covert action,” to “make a finding that each such operation is vital to the 
defense of the United States . . . [and] transmit a report of his finding, 
together with a report of the nature and scope of each such operation, to the 
committees of the Congress having jurisdiction to review and monitor the 
intelligence activities of our Government. This became known as the 
Hughes-Ryan amendment since Representative Leo Ryan (D-CA) was the 
sponsor in the House of Representatives. 

Although Senator Hughes accepted a few changes in the language of 
his draft amendment from Colby, the White House, and Members of 
Congress, the final text of the Foreign Assistance Act of 30 December 
1974 retained virtually intact the above-listed requirements leveled on the 
President. Those requirements have remained basic law since that time, 
although not always honored by the White House.'‘^ 

Senator Hughes’s amendment was not enthusiastically welcomed by 
the existing oversight barons on Capitol Hill. For example, the chief coun- 
sel of Senator S tennis’s subcomn uttee, Edward Braswell, had earlier told 
CIA’s Deputy Legislative Counsel] ^that Stennis wanted to strip 

the Foreign Assistance bill of the Hughes-Ryan amendment, but that he 
and other senior Senators “couldn’t hold off the younger Senators much 
longer, and leakage of information concerning some of the c overt actions 
now under way could blow the lid off.” In response, jtold Braswell 
that the Agency’s problems with the amendment concerned its constitution-, 
ality, the disclosure of secret operations, and the definition of “covert 
activities,” as well as the wisdom of admitting in statute law that the US 
Government covertly interferes in the affairs of foreign states. Anticipa ting 
certain unilateral WhiteHouse initiatives a decade later, then 

prophetically observed: “Necessity being the mother of invention, if the 
Agency’s capability to perform effectively is impaired, the Executive may 
be forced to turn to less conventional instrumentalities which are in no way 
subject to Congressional oversight.”"^ 

Although Colby, in concert with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 
other administration figures, and Members of Congress, had tried 
vigorously to get the Hughes-Ryan sponsors to modify the amendment’s 
language, Congress had accepted only minor changes. Moreover, Colby 
failed to persuade President Ford to include a strong public statement 
stressing the “absolute necessity” for Congress to protect the covert operations 

Amendment 1948 to Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, S 3324, Congressional Record^ 
2 October 1974, S 18062. 

''^The 1974 Hughes-Ryan amendment’s requirements were included in the Intelligence 
Oversiphf Act of 1980, which was incorporated into the National Security Act of 1947. 

e l Deputy Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Meeting with Ed 
rasweil, Chief Counsel, Senate Armed Services Committee, regarding the Hughes 
Amendment,” 4 October 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, 
CIA Archives and Records Center 



/ Congressional Issues 

information it would receive under the new legislation. In his remarks 
signing the new act into law on 30 December 1974, Ford ignored DCI 
Colby’s suggestion.^^ 

The Hughes-Ryan episode illustrated the growing difficulties DCI 
Colby and the CIA faced in dealing with Capitol Hill. Increasingly, 
Congress questioned CIA actions and the idea that certain Presidential and 
Agency activities were not subject to constitutional checks and balances. 
Passage of the Hughes-Ryan amendment meant that, after years of languor, 
Congress had at last become willing to take on responsibility for meaning- 
ful oversight of US intelligence and had admitted for the first time that the 
United States Government conducted covert political operations abroad, 
and intended to so continue. 

Constructing an Omnibus NSCID 

One of Colby’s primary responses to these Congressional challenges 
was his determined effort to construct an omnibus NSCID that would puU 
together and clarify CIA authority. Even before becoming DCI, Colby be- 
gan to push CIA and his Intelligence Cominunity Staff to prepare such an 
omnibus NSCID, which would both replace the existing set of eight classi- 
fied NSCIDs and be suitable for release as an unclassified document. His 
first draft of late October 1973 spelled out in general terms proposed intel- 
ligence responsibilities for the full gamut of players, including the NSC, 
the DCI, and the Intelligence Community.'^ Secretary of State Kissinger 
approved the concept almost a year later, on 23 August 1974. With the 
notable exception of the DIA, the USIB approved a draft of this NSCID on 
5 December 1974. 

‘^William Colby,. DCI, Letter to President Ford, 18 December 1$74, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 19, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 
The final act mandated that “No funds appropriated under the authority of this or any other 
Act may be expended by or on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency for operations in 
foreign countries, other than activities intended solely for obtaining necessary inteUigence, 
unless and until the President finds that each such operation is important to the national secu- 
rity of the United States and reports, in a timely fashion, a description and scope of such 
operation to the appropriate committees of the Congress, including the Committee on Foreign 
Relations of the United States Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the United 
States House of Representatives.” Sec. 662 of Public Law 93-559, 93rd Congress, S 3394, 
30 December 1974. 

Subjects covered included the Intelligence Resources Advisory Committee (IRAC), the 
production of national intelligence, foreign intelligence collection, management of national 
technical means of verification, signals intelligence, US clandestine activities abroad, the 
monitoring of foreign broadcasts, domestic collection activities, a national photographic in- 
terpretation center, management of refugees and defectors, and the use of national intelli- 
gence resources in active theaters of war (John Martin [AD/DCI/IC], Memorandum for 
William Colby, DCI, “Unclassified Omnibus NSCID,” 19 December 1974), CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 


William £. Colby 

The Department of Defense stoutly resisted the omnibus NSCID idea. 
DOD’s position became fully clear on 19 December 1974, when DIA submitted 
to USIB a new paragraph — of 18 pages — on “The Department of Defense. 
Four months later, in April 1975, DOD administered the coup de grace to the 
entire effort when Deputy Secretary of Defense William Qements sent Colby 
this “Dear Bill" communication: 

I understand you are planning to have the USIB consider the draft Omnibus 
NSCID at your 9. April [1975] meeting, with an eye toward finalizing this 
document. In view of the many ongoing actions external to the Intelligence 
Community which impact on this general area, it appears inappropriate and 
indeed could be harmful to proceed further with the Omnibus NSCID at this 
time. I believe, therefore, that it is best to delay consideration of this matter 
until the nature and scope of these other, actions can be more clearly defined 
and assessed.'^* 

And so died Colby’s effort to clarify CIA’s authority. The omnibus 
NSCID was long stalled, then killed, by one of US intelligence’s fun- 
damental, ongoing problems: the reluctance of the Department of Defense, 
the manager of the nation’s largest intelligence resources, to allow the 
Central Intelligence Agency to produce military intelligence. Colby’s ina- 
bility to convince Defense otherwise meant the end of the omnibus NSCID, 
especially since by that time other firestorms — the White House’s 
Rockefeller Commission, the Senate’s Church committee and the House of 
Representatives’ Nedzi-Pike committee — were overtaking the CIA. As we 
shall discuss in chapters 9 to 11, these investigations’ revelations so esca- 
lated the need to clarify CIA’s authority that an omnibus NSCID could not 
have sufficed in any event. Either new Congressional legislation or an 
Executive order had become necessary. In the end. President Ford ‘beat 
Congress to the punch. 

‘"RAdm. D, R Harvey (Defense Intelligence Agency), Memorandum for the D/DCI/IC, “Pro- 
posed ‘Omnibus’ NSCID,” 19 December 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, 
box 2, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 

^*William Qements, Deputy Secretary of Drfcnsc, Letter to William Colby, DCI, 4 April 1975, 
CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, CIA Archives and Records Center 

Part II 

Colby’s Black December, 1974 

At Christmas time, December 1974, a little more than a year after he had 
become DCI, the roof fell in on Colby and his good intentions. Colby’s 
long feud with James Angleton, the Agency’s counterintelligence (Cl) 
chief, reached its zenith just as a sudden blazoned The New York Times 
article by Seymour Hersh accused CIA of having been “massively” 
involved in domestic intelligence operations contrary to law. At the same 
time, Colby made a fateful decision to bring certain past CIA misdeeds to 
the attention of the Justice Department. It was this initiative that tended to 
confirm existing suspicions — in the Congress and in the press — that former 
DCI Helms had perjured himself in early 1973 when he told the Congress 
that, in the 1970 Chilean elections, CIA had neither passed money to 
Salvador AUende’s opponents nor tried to overthrow the Government of 
Chile, Unfortunately, Colby’s handling of these issues damaged both his 
influence as DCI and his gamble that a more open style would produce 
more respect for the Agency throughout the country. 




Chapter 6 

Firing James Angleton 

I remember really getting upset when I heard [Angleton] was back in 
Washington. One time, when he stood on a street corner, a car drove by with 
Allen Dulles and the Secretary of State in it, and they picked him up and had 
a talk with him in the car. I said, “Jesus Christ! Is this a serious intelligence 
agency?” Having this guy with his strong opinions directly at the policy 
level without any analysis, any comparison with the other factors going on. 
It just violates my sense of what intelligence is all about. 

William E. Colby' 

Colby and Angleton had clashed for years on many issues, although 
the root cause of their antagonism was their strongly opposing views of ac- 
countability and secrecy. Colby strongly believed that the rule of law ap- 
plied to all parts of the US Government, including intelligence, and that 
counterintelligence must be fully accountable to the DCI. Angleton, 
however, strongly believed that CIA must remain autonomous within the 
government, that it was not obliged to report its secrets to Congress or 
other offices, and that his own domain, counterintelligence, was so sensi- 
tive that it must remain an autonomous service within CIA. 

From the time Colby became DCI, indeed from the time he became 
Executive Director-Comptroller of CIA in 1972, one of the principal goals 
he set for himself was to reform the unique empire that James Angleton, 
Chief of CIA's Counterintelligence Staff, had created for himself over a 
20-year period. The showdown between Colby and Angleton, which 
resulted in Angleton's departure from the Agency at the end of December 
1974, proved to be one of the most difficult, bitter, and far-reaching 
problems Colby had to deal with during his tenure as DCI. 

That there would be a showdown of some kind was virtually inevita- 
ble. As James Schlesinger later observed, Colby and Angleton “had 
bad blood going back many years, a nd Bill obvious ly was in- 
tent on getting rid of Angleton.”^ DO officer jagrees : “The 

'CoIby interview by^ ^15 March 1988. 

^James Schlesinger, iuLerview by J, Kenneth McDonald, tape recording, Washington, DC, 

16 April 1982 (hereafter cited as Schlesinger interview by McDonald, 16 April 1982) 



William E. Colby 


incompatibility of the two men would unquestionably have surfaced much 
earlier had Colby not gone out to Vietnam duty in 1968,” he wrote. “As 
Chief of the Soviet Bloc (SB) Division . . . [Colby] could have helped 
DCI Helms break ‘the malign spell’ that Angleton’s influence had cast over 
the operations of the SB Division.”^ In any event, direct confrontation be- 
tween Colby and Angleton began in early 1973, the moment Colby became 
DCI Schlesinger’s right-hand man. 

In one comer stood Colby, convinced that the times called for a more 
open CIA and convinced as well that Angleton’s supersecret style had be- 
come incompatible with the reforms he believed essential.'" In the other 
comer stood an entrenched boyar of wholly opposite view, so consumed 



Firing James Angleton 

with the need for secrecy that he even refrained from holding staff meet- 
ings within his own Cl Staff, lest one of his officers learn of Cl operations 
that were not his own responsibility.^ 

Angleton had fashioned a brilliant record, beginning with OSS coun- 
terintelligence (Cl) duty in Italy during World War n, where he had been 
chief of counterintelligence/counterespionage operations. Those operations 
had enjoyed considerable autonomy within OSS; Cl officers relied on OSS 
Theater Headquarters only for administration and services.^ That ex- 
perience formed Angleton’s strongly held conviction that counterintelli- 
gence was rightly a world of its own. Furthermore, Angleton and his OSS 
colleagues believed that paramilitary operations (such as those in which 
Colby participated) were somewhat extraneous, not really part of intelli- 
gence activities. According to Ray Cline, Angleton considered Colby to be 
“just a paratrooper,’’^ 

Angleton’s certainties grew, along with his autonomous powers, as he 
became one of CIA’s most influential officers. Commi ssioned in 1953 by 
then DCI Allen Dulles with unique responsibilities for 
Cl, operations, Angleton’s empire rapidly expanded.® By 19737 the well- 
intentioned reformer, Colby, was pitted against the well-entrenched 
legend— variously called the Gray Ghost, the Grand Inquisitor, the Poet, or 
Mother. Angleton was the master of ambiguity, the epitome of supersecret 
Cl operations, the CIA officer who had acquired the text of Nikita 
Khrushchev’s 1956 secret speech, the DO official held by many observers 
to be the finest counterintelligence officer the United States had yet 
produced. Of the many characterizations of him that exist, some fictional, 
some not, one of the most evocative is that by former DO officer David A. 
Phillips: “I watched Angleton as he shuffled down the hall, 6 feet tall, his 
shoulders stooped as if supporting an enormous incubus of secrets . . . 
extremely thin, he was once described as ’A man who looks like his 
ectoplasm has run out.’”’ 

That the ultimate showdown between Angleton and Colby took the 
particular form it did was perhaps inevitable, given their sharply differing 
personalities and philosophies. The earliest moves in their showdown date 
from early 1973, when James Schlesinger became DCI and entrusted Colby 

"Raymond Rocca (Angleton’s Cl deputy, 1968-74), interview by Harold P. Ford, summary 
notes, Washington, DC, 12 August 1987 (hereafter cited as Rocca interview by Ford, 
12 August 1987) 

^History P roj ectf^ crate gic Services Unit, Office of the Assistant Secretary of War, The 
Overseas Targets: The Report of the OSS, 1947, (originally Top Secret; later, declassified) 
(New York: Walker Publishing Go., 1976), vol. U. p. 92. 

’Clinc interview b y Ford, 31 Mar ch 1988. 

*See discussion of j | pp. 83-85. 

’Phillips, The Nignrwmdi, p. 239. . 



William E. Colby 


with special executive responsibilities. Colby then discovered what he 
considered to be “bizaire” activities on the part of Angleton and his Cl 
Staff. Deeply concerned that Cl Staff was involved in illegal domestic 
intelligence operations, Colby recommended that Angleton be fired. 
Despite Schlesinger’s “intense suspicion” of CIA’s oldtime DO officers, 
however, he did not buy Colby’s “repeated urgings” to move Angleton 
out.'° Instead, Schlesinger began sharply diminishing Angleton’s authority 
but permitted him to remain as CIA’s counterintelligence chief. 

Several factors prevented Angleton’s firing at this time. First, a 
special DO group that DCI Schlesinger had commissioned recommended 
that Angleton’s authority be whittled down, not radically ended. “ In this 
group’s report, veteran CIA operations officer Cord Meyer recommended a 
number of changes within Cl, some of which Colby later made when he 
became PCI. Acc ording to a later CIA history of Angleton’s Cl Staff by 
heading this group was “an unpleasant task for Meyer 
who was a devoted follower of Angleton and was intelligent enough to per- 
ceive he was being asked to sharpen the axe which would in due course lop 
off, if not his friend’s head, at least a number of his extremities.”'' In the- 
spring of 1973, DCI-designate Colby went along with the Meyer group’s 

activities be subjected to the CIA’s Annual Program Review of manpower 
requirements and coordinated with the DO’s Division Chiefs and Chiefs of 
Station. In addition, Colby (who at the time was also the DDO) urged 
Schlesinger to make Angleton and his Cl operations for the first time 
directly responsible to CIA’s Deputy Di rector for Ope rations and asked the 
DCI to reduce Angleton’s Cl Staff from 

Schlesinger, however, felt that the sharp personnel cuts he had just 
made in the CIA had created so much trauma that removing Angleton 
should be postponed. Moreover, Schlesinger had developed a certain 
respect for Angleton: “I’m fond of Jim,” he later told an interviewer. “I 
think he’s got a good mind, if somewhat convoluted and involuted; 
however, he probably had been in the counterintelligence business too 

btudy, p, 1,035. 

v..ora Meyer, Memorandum for William Colby, Deputy Director for Operations, “Review of 
DDO Staff Structure,” 16 April 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, 
folder 2 2. CIA Archives and Records Center fSecM tfT 
I '^tudy, p. 1,039. 

* vYiliiam Colby, Deputy Director for Operations, Memorandum for the Director, 
Management Committee, “Revision of DD/0 Staff Structure,” 28 April 1973, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 22, CIA Archives and Records Center 


Firing James Angleton 

long, and it had become too compartmented, too airtight.” According to 
‘ |however, Schlesinger was “an abject coward” concerning Angleton, 
^ wholly unwilling to fire his celebrated Cl chief. 

Not surprisingly, Angleton counterattacked, strongly defending his 
position and sharply criticizing Meyer’s recommendations. Angleton 
argued that whittling back the Cl chief’s authority would have a retrogres- 
sive effect on CIA’s counterintelligence capabilities. He felt that non-CI 
officers in the DO lacked a “basic understanding” of counterintelligence 
and that spreading Cl responsibilities throughout the DO would destroy the 
concept of national counterintelligence. Lacking a focal point within DO 
for doing national counterintelligence, the whole function would atrophy.'^ 
Confronted by Angleton’s arguments and Schlesinger’s reluctance to 
act, Colby himself came to feel that he must move slowly and carefully, 
lest Angleton take his case to Congress or to the press. Colby now believes 
this was a mistake: “I should have fired Angleton earlier,” he later told an 
interviewer. “It would have been much cleaner.”*’ 

By the time Colby became Director, Angleton had established a 
privileged status that had remained essentially unchanged for over two 
decades. Unlike Colby, he had enjoyed extremely close personal relation- 
ships with DCIs Allen Dulles and Richard Helms. According to Angleton, 
Dulles discussed sensitive issues with him, including even questions 
involving assignment of non-CI senior CIA officials. “My relationship 
with Mr. Dulles,” he later recalled, “was such that, as head of Cl, at least 
two or three^ times a week I would drive him home, at his request, and talk 
with him.”*® Angleton’s autonomy and close personal relationships with, 
the Director continued under Richard Helms, who gave Angleton what 
many contemporaries termed a long leash. Although Helms entertained 
some misgivings about certain Cl operations and practices, he usually 
allowed Angleton to go more or less his own way. 

By 1973, Angleton had thus amassed a special influence unique 
within the Agency, extending far beyond his formal responsibilities as Cl 
_ciuef^ then, as characterized by British counterintelligence officer Peter 

attained the zenith of his power. He had become successful 

’’Deyond aU expectations” and had virtually achieved a veto influence over 
‘all operations and personnel within the Agency.’’ He controlled thel 

Schlesinstftr McDonald, 16 April 1982. 

interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 

, , ' • j Aivruwai TT adUiUglUU, 

(hereafter cited as interview by Ford, 3 November 1987) ggpicf 


Chief, Counterintelligence Staff, Memorandum for William Colby, Deputy 

stir nn 

fh. erms these arguments of Angleton’s “a brilliant expositbiror 

;ne need for ccntralizedSSmerintemgencc/’ 

| 15 March 1988. 

igCoIby interview by 
James Angleton, interview uyi 
ereafter cited as Angleton interview byj^ 

J tape recording. Washington, DC, 27 July 19S4 
| 27 July 1984) 


William E. Colby 

account. Acco rding to Wright, Angl eton ensured that all important conunu- 
nications with] ivent through him personally, bypassing 

I \ ^ ^ A — — 

|and even succeeded in establishing his own counterin- 
lemgence cipner independent of CIA communications, which he claimed 
were insecure, “although we all believed that the real reason was empire- 

The advent of Colby in 1973 definitely heralded a sharp decline in 
Angletpn’s fortunes. Whereas Helms had achieved a good grasp of counter- 
intelligence, Colby had not. By 1974, moreover, many of Angleton’s old 
senior CIA colleagues had left. Alle n Dulles was gone. So, too, were 
Richard Helms, Thomas Karamessines, Tracy Barnes, Bronson 

Tweedy, and many other oldtime members ot ClA^s initial establishment 
Where Angleton had once had ready, close access to Dulles and Helms, his 
position was now reduced to one of professional, bureaucratic status. The 
shock of Angleton’s changed status vis-a-vis the DCI would have been 
considerable, even if his and Colby’s outlooks had been much more 
similar. They were not, however, and the new DCI was both hostile toward 
existing Cl autonomy, operations, and practices and determined to restruc- 
ture them along his own lines, whether or not Angleton acquiesced.^® 

As far back as the 1950s, Colby and Angleton had clashed over 
Itahan operations. At that time, James Angleton’s focus had been primarily 
on counterintelligence operations; Colby’s., on covert political operations. 
Angleton, with long experience in Italy, resented the latter-day Colby and 
his totally different operational emphases. Angleton saw his task as that of 
fighting world Communism. Colby felt that CIA efforts should be for, not 
just against, something. Angleton wanted the United States to keep placing 
its bets on Italy’s Christian Democrats (CDU); Colby believed that the 
CDU was in need of substantial reforms if Communist influence in Italy 
were to be kept in check. Colby championed something like an “opening 
to the left,” in the belief that a stronger Italian Socialist Party could 
neutralize some of the pro-Communist sentiment in the country; Angleton 
was convinced that the Socialists were simply a front for the Italian 

Colby and Angleton thereaf ter had s harp differences over counterintelli- 
gence operations in ^detnam. The | } tudy states that, in 1965, Angleton 
proposed that a long-needed, specif Cl section be added to the Saigon Station. 
After first gaining approval in principle from Qark Qifford (then Chairman of 
the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board), Angleton got the approval 
of DCI Helms and then DO/FH Division chief Colby to send a veteran DO 

'’Peter Wright, Spy Catcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer 
(NcwTQrkL\% ing, 1987), pp, 306-307. 

I [maintains that, just before Colby became DCI, Angleton came to have ready 

access to UU Schlesinger, that the latter had a better grasp of Cl matters than did Colby; and 
^hat Angl e ton misralf/^ gl y anticipated he would have even more access to the new DCI, Colby ’ 
interview by Ha rold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 
y lyo/ increaiter cited a ^ [ nterview by Ford, 7 October, 1987] 


Firing James Angleton 

officer to Saigon to look into adding a substantially enhanced Cl 

ftiriction there.j :an into a buzz saw. The chief of the Military Assistance 

Command, Vietnam (MACV), J-2, Brig. Gen. Joseph McChrist ian. refused to 
cooperate even with the idea because, in the words of the study, “He had 
not been presented with any convincing reason why it would be applicable to 
Vietnam,*’ Furthermore, DIA’s chief, Ll Gen. Joseph Carroll, held that the 
proposal indicated that the CIA was seeking to take over the entire counterintel- 
ligence effort in Vietnam and, in so doing, was biting off more than it could 
chew. CLA’s Saigon Station chief, Gordon Jorgensen, held that the added Q unit 
would threaten his authority as COS and reported negatively on the project to 
his boss, FE Division chief Colby. The latter thereupon reneged on his original 
approval and argued strongly against the proposal, telling DO chief 
Karamessines that Angleton *s scheme would be “impracticable in the Saigon 
setting” and that unilateral Q operations should be “restricted to those cases 
which cannot be handled with adequate security and greater ease through [South 
Vietnamese] liaison.”^' In the end, Angleton’s PFIAB-approved initiative died 
on the vine. 

Three years later, in 1968, when Colby had become the Director of 
CORDS in Vietnam, Angleton again urged a much more substantial and effec- 
tive counterintelligence/counterespionage (CI/CE) effort there. Once again, 
however, Colby (no w Amb^ sador Colby) demurred. According to Angleton’s 
Chief of Operations, the attempt to strengthen the Cl effort in Vietnam 
encountered consideraoie opposition from C/FE Nelson, Saigo n Station, and 
C7CORDS Colby. Saigon Station’s one Cl officer, became so dis- 

gusted with this foot-dragging that he resigned irom me CiA. Successive 
Chiefs of Station in Saigon resisted any strengthening of the Cl effort there 
until Thomas Polgar took over as COS in. 1974. By that time, however, events 

in Vietnam had deteriorated too far to ameliorate the Q sit uation.^^ 

Colby and Angleton also had sharp differences over 

|By the time Colby became DCI, Angleton had for rwo aecaaes en- 
joyed a monopoly over these operations. Allen Dulles had given Angleton 
this strictly compartmented account because of Angleton’s very close ties 

jstudy, pp. 1,006-1,007. CIA did send out more Cl strength to Vietnam in 1966-^ 

^or two years thereafter, until the PHOENIX program got under way. Cl rcsponsmilP 
lies continued to rest largely with the US military’s MACV, whose Cl capabilities and perfor- 
mance were at best modest, and with the GVN, which later proved to have been heavily 
penetrated by enemy agents. 

^William Colby, Chief, Far East Division, Memorandum for Desmond FitzGe rald, D eputy 
Director for Plans, “Disagreement on Methodology,” 6 January 1966, as cited in fetudy, 
pp. 1,012-1,013. ' 


Firing James Angleton 

unce uCl (jolby proceeded to cut back Angleton’s empire, he also 
suspended project HTLINGUAL, a domestic mail intercept program 
Angleton had long directed. CIA and the FBI had tried to scrap this 
program on several occasions, but Angleton had always held them off. In 
Colby's view, HTLINGUAL was illegal and had never produced much 
“beyond vague generalities,”''" Church committee staffer Loch K. Johnson 
agrees. Questioning Angleton about that project, Johnson later wrote, was 
like “trying to find a new planet through an earth-bound telescope: it took 
constant probing, a sensitivity for nuance, and a willingness to endure vast 
oceans of silence. Angleton might begin an important story, then let it trail 
out like a vanishing comet and disappear into a black hole of ambiguity.”^ 
Colby also transferred CFs operational approval, special operations, 
technical control, police group, and international Communism functions to 
the DO. He divested Cl of its previous monopoly on liaison with the FBI, 

poioy maae tliese changes 

Tormin w" 

iui ucw jL/ueccoiaie oi operaxiofis Notice (DON 1-1180) that 
replaced the previous Clandestine Instruction that had remained unchanged 
for nearly two decades.^^ 

Finally, Colby removed project MHCHAOS from Angleton’s 
authority and soon thereafter canceled it. This was an extremely sensitive 
CIA project, carried out under President Lyndon Johnson’s orders, that for 
years during the Vietnam war had collected data on antiwar Americans and 
later on international terrorists. Acting in concert with similar FBI and 
NSA programs and continuing under the orders of President Richard 
Nixon, operation CHAOS accumulated some 13,000 files, including more 
than 7,200 on American citizens.^^ 

“Colby, Honorable Me n, p. 387. 

Angleton interview^ |l March 1985. 

^Colby interview byj pMich 1988. 

^Colby, Honorable iwe«; pp. 334-335. 

Loch Johnson, A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation (Lexington, KY: 
Jlniversity of Kentucky Press, 1 985), p. 82. 

]D0 officer), inter- 
(hereafter cited as 

Colby, Honorable Men, p. 335;! btudy, p. 1,042;| 
_J25w.hY_Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, ^ 

fnterview by Ford, 7 August 1987) 
v^aurch committee. Book II. pp. lOO-lOl; Colby, Honorable Men, pp. 316-317. 

William E, Colby 

TOthin CIA, Angleton’s Cl Staff held responsibility for CHAOS, with 
some] |of his officers working on it by 1973. Throughout, the program 
enjoyed top priority and top secrecy. Angleton saw to it that CHAOS was not 
subject to the normal processes of review and financial accounting and that it 
was set up with special, private channels of communication to CIA’s stations 
abroad. Within the Cl Staff, this program was run fairly autonomously by 
Richard Ober, brought in to be one of Angleton’s section heads. CIA veterans 
do not give Ober particularly high marks. According to Ray Rocca, Angleton’s 
deputy, Ober was an ADP expert without much knowledge of Cl; moreover, he 
was not given much help by Q officers on operational matters. According to 
Rocca, *‘We were completely out of our depth, being man ipulated by . . . 
political officers and their sponsors.”^^| HAngleton’s deputy 

for operations, agrees that Ober ran his own show completely; “He went around 
Jim Angleton and me, and reported directly to the DQ. A later chief of the 
Cl Staff, David Blee, is even less charitable — Ober was “a nincompoop who 
went way beyond his charter.”^^ 

There had always been many d oubts wi thin CIA about the domestic- 
spying program’s legality. According to| ' 
these doubts: “The record suggests,” writes 

even Angleton shared some of 
‘‘that Angleton regarded the 
whole affair as something deserving the ten-foot pole treatmenL”^^ Colby him- 
self viewed CHAOS with 

“distinct horror” and, according to 

had the 

“good sense” to kill it^^ It should be noted that Colby did so in March 1974, 
some nine months before Seymour Hersh accused the CIA of conducting 
“massive” illegal domestic operations, and a year before the Rockefeller, 
Church, and Pike bodies began their investigations of alleged CIA misconduct 
Why did Colby finally fire Angleton? The reasons are many, dating 
back to the mid-1950s, although until 1973 the differences between 
Angleton and Colby related mostly to professional, not personal, issues. 
Their confrontation became personal, however, once Colby began the at- 
tempt to remove Angleton, or at least to sharply cut back his authority. 
After Colby sacked him, Angleton’s frustrations turned to lasting fury. 
Former British counterintelligence officer Peter Wright writes that when he 
saw the ex-CI chief shortly after he had been fired, Angleton was “raging” 
because his and his senior staff’s departure meant “two hundred years of 
counterintelligence [experience] thrown away,”^® 

”Rocca interview by Ford, 19 August 1987. 

] interview by Ford, 7 October 1987 Iggapcef* 
uavld Blee, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 6 August 1987 
(hereaft er cited as Blee interview by Ford, 6 August 1987) (ConMg»i^. 
j I ^ tudy, p. 1,045. — 

J [study, p, 1,048. 

vVnpit, Spy Catcher p. 377. 

Firing James Angleton 

As we have seen, however, the core problem throughout was Colby’s and 
Angleton’s nearly opposite interpretations of what CIA’s mission, priorities, and 
place should be in American society. Colby agreed with most of the sharp 
criticisms of Angleton’s Cl operations that for many years had circulated within 
CIA. First and foremost, Colby agreed that Q Staff’s overriding concerns about 
Soviet defectors’ legitimacy had reached such a state that CIA operations 
against Soviet officials had become paralyzed, and valuable insights from such 
sources discounted.^^ According to Colby, the DO’s intelligence-gathering 
operations had sharply declined because of CFs consuming suspicions about 
possible penetrations and KGB operations. “We seemed to be putting more 
emphasis on the KGB as CIA’s adversary than on the Soviet Union as the 
United States’ adversary,” Colby later observed.'^*^ 

Colby felt that Angleton’s paranoia was not only stultifying positive DO 
operations, but was also seriously damaging the recruiting of Soviet officers and 
hurtin g CIA’s intelligence take. He recalls that as of 1973-1974 there were some 
3r so CIA officers all wound up in checking against penetrations: “Because 
of this we had virtually no positive ops going against our primary targets, 
the USSR and Soviet officers. I determined that this balance would have to 

Colby was particularly critical of Cl Staff’s insistence upon carrying 
out its operations abroad without the knowledge of the DO area Divisions 
or of their Chiefs of Station. Nor could Colby accept Angleton’s contention 
that the Sino-Soviet split was a fraud, a view the Cl chief had largely 
derived from the testimony of an earlier Soviet defector, Anatoliy Golitsyn 
— one defector in whom Angleton happened to believe. Colby held 
that Cl’s views on these issues directly harmed CIA and Intelligence 
Community analysts’ efforts to convince their superiors and US 
policymakers that the Sino-Soviet estrangement was genuine and that this 
split constituted an opportunity the United States could exnloit.^^ 

David Blee, a later chief of Cl, holds that Angleto n’s suspicions cost some Soviet defectors 
their lives (Blee interview hv Ford. 6 Angnsr I — ZZ 

_j ■ — [uici vicw-uy rolu, j iNOvemoer ivd/)” 

tionOtable Men, p. Z4:). 

^^Colby interview by Ford, 3 February 1987. 

Personal experience, Harold P. Ford, The argument that the Sino-Soviet split was a deliber- 
ate fraud was still being pushed by members of Angleton's Cl Staff officers as late as 
1971— nearly two years, that is, after the bloodletting that had occurred between Chinese and 
Soviet troops along the Ussuri River frontier. 


William E. Colby 

ine i^LA had 

previously studied that allegation exhaustively and had given 1 |a clean 

bill of health, but Angleton never accepted that verdict. Upon learning of 
Ang^cton s lingering suspicions, Colby conducted his own investigation of 
>nd judged him to be innocent of the charges. This episode caused 
‘that I just had to get a better handle on our counteiintell- 

Colby to resolve 

In August-September 1974, at about the same time as he was learning 
other surprises about Angleton, Colby was given a study by Cl o fficer! 

charged that Angleton himself was a Soviet spy.|| |enjoyed sorne ' 

credence, even though known to be a disaffected Cl officSTb^use he had 
earlier correctly warned that a West German offici al, Heinz Felfe, was a Soviet 
agent. Some of the first CIA officers who feadl Hallegations against 
Angleton believed them sufficiently well based to merit further examination 
Colby at once put together a blue-ribbon CIA panel under the direction of 
veteran officer Br onson Tweedy to check out I bharges Wth some 

assistance from the| ^the IVeedy group 

J (personal experience, Harold P. Ford). 

Ip I Interview by Ford, 3 November 1987^ 

Honorable Men, 364-365. Angleton’s close associates disagree strongly with 
Colby on this isssue. Ray Rocca holds that Angleton never made such a charge against 

r*”® aU'Sation IS a wholesale canard, although I don’t know this for a fact because 

Angle ton about this issue’’ (Rocca interview by Ford, 19 Anmst 

claiming than?ni£leton never discussed this 
F ^ismewiiy Ford, 7 Oct ober 19871 . disagrees, concluding that 

tffniteW I i Ve arszcfiore; that Angleton had 

accusauons | that DQ Helms and 

DDCI Vernon W alters had in^ esUqted thtlse allegations, determined they did not hold wafer. 

I^dds, however, that no one told Co lbv about 

and so informed 

tive matters wh 

Angleto n had pl aced a very dark cloud over 
outraged j j jnterview by Ford; 3 November 

[. Hence, wh en PCI Colbv learne d 

yy 61 jr 

Jhe was unaerstandably 


Firing James Angleton 

carefully examinee^ [thesis that Golitsyn was a Soviet agent who had been 

dispatched years before to be Angleton’s case officer and to question the bona 
Tides of subsequent Soviet defectors. Tweedy and his colleagues concluded that 
there was absolutely no case against Angleton. Given this reassurance, Colby 
did not consider Angleton a Soviet mole. He did, however, interpret this episode 
as sharply reflecting the bizarre atmosphere that Angleton’s suspicious approach 
to issues had created in CIA’s Q world.'*^ 

Moreover, whereas DCIs Dulles, Helms, and Schlesinger had been 
content to let Angleton work on his own, Colby felt strongly that the 
Director of Central Intelligence had a right to know what his subordinate 
officers’ operations were — ^and in detail. Angleton’s empire was the only 
precinct in CIA where Colby had no such knowledge. He felt that Cl Staff 
had become too much cut off from the other offices of the Directorate of 
Operations, to say nothing of the rest of CIA and the Intelligence 
Community. Furthermore, by 1974, Cl Staff’s reputation had slipped badly, 
and the Staff was experiencing difficulty in recruiting able young officers. 

Colby thus had many welFdocumented reasons for wanting to fire 
Angleton, or at least rein him in, but the clash between these two powerful 
officers stemmed primarily from fundamental difiTerences in their personali- 
ties and philosophies. In contrast to Colby’s more open outlook, Angleton’s 
was one of suspicion to the point of paranoia. For him, world crises were 
not coincidental, accidental, or the working out of complex historical 
forces, but the product of deliberate evil designed by “them.” Even some 
of Angleton’s own Cl colleagues chided him for this attitude: “Jim, your 
trouble is, you think like a Russian.” 

Brilliant, versatile, someone who definitely marched to a drum of his 
own, Angleton had by 1973 become locked into an approach solidified by 
30 years’ focus on counterintelligence. In his view, the Cl responsibility 
was a whoUy unique endeavor: the search for hostile spies was explicitly 
sanctified by law, as most other aspects of intelligence were not. Autonomy 
for Cl was not just a convenience; it was mandatory. Counterintelligence 
matters could not be tossed into a collective bureaucratic pot and 
administered together with other — wholly dissimilar — CIA efforts. In 
Angleton’s view, Soviet defectors were to be looked upon with extreme 
skepticism, since, except for Golitsyn and a few others, most were plants 
supplying disinformation. Nor should the KGB’s ability to place moles 

interview by Ford, 3 November i987.| is nonetheless of the belief that the alle- 
gations that Angleton was a Soviet agent did eWrrnto, and reinf orce, Col by^s certainty as of 
December 1974, that it would be better if Angleton left CIA| tnterview by Ford 
'>1 January 1991). I 


William E. Colby 

within the CIA be underestimated. Angleton also held that liaison could 
not be trusted. All foreign liaison officers should be regarded not only as 
sources of intelligence but also as targets of offensive counterespionage 

In Angleton’s view, these extraordinary security needs justified CPs 
compartmentation within CIA. He instituted such practice even within the 
Cl Staff itself; he would not brief Ray Rocca on operational matters, for 
example, even though Rocca had been Angleton *s right-hand Cl man since 
World War II. During the period 1973-75, operational iss ues remained 
solely the preserve of Angleton and his operations chief. 

Paradoxically, however, Rocca recalls that Angleton, the apostle of secrecy 
and compartmentation, from time to time forgot himself when talking to 

journalists and blurted out sensitive information.' 

Colby maintains that, overall, he simply didn^t Kn ow wiia t his Cl 

Chief was doing. Angleton’s close colleagues Rocca andl jconsider 

these charges “outrageous.” According to them, the Cl Staff was prepared 
to brief the new PCI Colby on their world, but Colby never took them up 
on their invitation.^T] [flatly refutes this testimony, maintaining that 
Colby had a very difficult time finding out what the Cl Staff was up to and, 
in particular, what it had accomplished/* The true situation may well have 
been somewhere in between — Angleton and his colleagues characteristi- 
cally holding back information from DCI Colby, while Colby was swiftly 
making changes based on certain of his own a priori certainties. 

‘‘’Rocca interview by Ford, 19 August 1987j interview by Ford, 7 October 1987. 
"®Rocca interview by Ford, 19 August 1987;h5eyrrKlur M. Hersh, "The Angleton Stoiy,*’ The 
New York Tmes Magazine, 25 June 1978, p. 13. The debates on defection and moles largely 
predate Colby's tenure as DCI. They are examined in some detail in other studies produced 
b y CI^ s History Staff and in a fair amount of open literature. 

"Interview by Ford, 3 November 198'^ 

■^1 ^ u.. r: I I 'I A. lOO'7.^ 

"Kocca interview, by Ford, 12 August 1987; 
j [inter view by Ford, 3 November 19877 
At the timc[ /J | 

Ford, 3 November iy»v; Angleton interview by[ 

interview by Ford, 7 October 1987. 

l^tudy, pp. 1,050-1,05 1;| 

|1 March 198jr" 

interview by 



Firing James Angleton 

Indeed, by the time Colby became DCI, Angleton’s physical and 
emotional condition had begun to deteriorate because of. illness (eventually 
emphysema and an ulcer) and increasingly heavy drinking. Colby’s moves 
to cut back Angleton’s responsibilities further aggravated these conditions, 
as numerous witnesses testify. British counterintelligence officer Peter 
Wright holds that in 1974 Angleton “looked worse than ever, consumed by 
the dark, foreboding role he was committed to playing. He viewed himself 
as a kind of Cassandra preaching doom and decline for the West.” Patience 
with Angleton was by this time rapidly wearing thin in London, says 
Wright. “Maurice Oldfield [later chief of MI6] had an ill-concealed hostil- 
ity to all his ideas and theories, and even inside MIS he had begun to make 
enemies. Robert Gambino, a later CIA Chief of Security, states that 
Angleton was 

getting to the point where he had some difficulty separating reality from fic- 
tion. I had personal information and personal experience with Angleton 
during his latter days — ^he was slipping off the edge. I don’t want to suggest 
that he was, you know, that he was having serious mental problems or any- 
thing like that. Let me just say, I think it was time for him to 

For his part, Colby explains that a need “to proceed slowly and carefully” 
was a chief reason it took him so long to move Angleton out.^^ 

Colby finally dismissed Angleton on 23 December, but not before the 
entire affair had become intertwined with Seymour Hersh’s charges of 
“massive” CIA illegalities. This Hersh-Angleton-Colby episode began on 
17 December when Colby, just back from his eye-opening trip to the 
Middle East, called Angleton into his office, offered him a new assignment 
(which would have put him on the shelf), and asked him to think over for a 
few days whether he wanted to take that position or retire. 

The next day, 18 December, journalist Hersh told Colby that he had 
to see him because he had a story about CIA illegalities that was “bigger 
than My-Lai” (for which Hersh had received a Pulitzer Prize). Colby 
agreed, and Hersh visited Colby at CIA Headquarters on 20 December. 
Here he told the DCI that he had evidence that the CIA for some time had 
been engaged in “massive” operations against the antiwar movement 
involving wiretaps, break-ins, mail intercepts, and surveillance of 
Americans. Colby replied that Hersh’s story was badly flawed, that there 
never had been any “massive” illegalities, and that the few delinquencies 
that had occurred had been corrected “long before this.”^^ 

fright, Spy Catcher, p. 346. 
Robert Gambino, interview by[~ 

(hereafter cited as Gambino inierview oy| 
william Colby, interviews by Harold P. Few 

tape r^ ording, Washington, DC, 29 December 1987 
^ |29 December 1987) {^rr i «rV~ 

1 by Harold P Fotu, summary notes, Washington, DC, 3 February 1987 
and 9 August 1988 Colby adds further details that he has asked the author not to 

include in this study. 

Colby, Honorable Men, p. 391. 



William E. Colby 

Later that same day, 20 December, Colby again called in Angleton, 
this time telling him that the decision to remove him was firm. Colby also 
informed Angleton of Hersh’s pending article, and assured him that, 
whatever that article might say, “no one in the world would believe his 
leaving his job was not the result of the article. But both Jim and I would 
know it was not, which was the important part to me.”^^ 

Meanwhile, interpreting Colby’s remarks as confirmation of the 
alleged illegalities, Hersh published his article in The New York Times on 
22 December under a four-column headline, “Huge C.LA. Operations 
Reported in U.S. Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon 
Years.”^® The next day, 23 December, Colby announced Angleton’s resig- 
nation. One week later, 30 De cember, Angl eto n retired from th e CIA, 
followed closely by Ray Rocca, andj three of 

his chief lieutenants. 

After Angleton retired, Colby at once instituted a number , of major 
changes in CIA counterintelligence. He diffused responsibility for Cl 
among a number of DO entities and significantly slimmed down both the 
Cl budget and the Cl table of organization. He also canceled all coun- 
terespionage operations (that is, all offensive Cl opera tions against 
attemp ted hostile penetrations), and moved responsibility for | 

into DO’s NE Division.^^ Although he kept a Cl Staff in being, (Joiby 
left it with only a Research and Analysis office and an Operations office, 
cutting the size of each roughly in half.^ 

Opinions vary widely about the significance and wisdom of Colby’s 
Cl changes. Many observers hold that Colby’s reorganization of CIA coun- 
terintelligence put an end to many of the ills that had developed during 
Angleton’s long stewardship and did so without inflicting damaging 
change. Colbv u nderstandably holds this view, as to varying degrees do 
I and David Blee, Angleton’s successors as chi efs of Cl. 

Other officers less personally involved, such as and a later 

DCI, Stansfield Turner, also agree.^' 

Other observers, however, fault Colby for seriously damaging CIA’s 
counterintelligence capabilities. Understandably, these include Angleton 
and his lieutenants, who charge that Colby made his counterintelligence 

”CoIby, Honorable Men, p. 396, This seems an incredible statement on Colby’s part. 
“Excerpts from this historic article, detailing Hersh’s charges against the CIA, arc given at 
appendix C. The tangled relationship between Colby and Hersh is discussed in chapter 7. 
“Colby’s philosophy was that each case officer should be his own Cl officer, with the DO’s 
Soviet Division offering the necessary guidance and backup for all. 

“Colby had started certain of these changes in 1973 but significantly expanded his Cl revi- 
sions immediately following Angleton’s departure. 

n interview by Ford, 3 November 1987. Admiral Turner holds that an unjustified myth 
5 w up over the years that Colby had gutted US counterintelligence and that Uiis charge 
lived on in what Turner calls the “excesses” of President-elect Reagan’s intelligence transi- 
tion team, 1980-81 (Stansfield Turner, Secrecy and Democracy: The CIA in Transition [New 
York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1985], p. 161). 



Firing James Angleton 

changes precipitously, without attempting to leam more of what was going 
on in the Cl Staff. They also cillege that Colby haphazardly brought in 
officers who had little or no experience in Cl matters. These officers, they 
charge, relegated Cl activities to a “lowly third” position, opening the 
doo r for np mCI officers to come “at the Cl body like piranhas.” Rocca 
and contend that Colby's changes ended effective Cl coordination 
and targeting with the FBI. They also maintain that Colby's changes 
removed Cl review of other DO Divisions' operational proposals and, 
by cutting out counterespionage operations, confined remaining Cl 
responsibilities to essentially, passive activities.^ 

Similarly, former British counterintelligence officer Peter Wright 
criticizes Colby for both the manner in which he fired Angleton and the Cl 
changes he instituted. Colby’s most extreme critic on these scores, author 

Edward Jay Epstein, charges that he created “a travesty” by bringing_in_as_ 
the new chief of Counterintelligence/] | (CL 

I a CIA officer who had championed the credentiais~or' 
Soviet defector Nosenko. Colby had then hired Nosenko (whom Angleton 
had long believed was a KGB plant) as a consultant to the post-Angleton 

Cl Staff. Epstein concludes that, with Nosenko thus accredited and the. 
counterintelligence staff purged, “the CIA had truly been turned inside 

There is no question that many ills had festered and grown in the 
dark, overcompartmented world of James Angleton’s two-decade monop- 
oly over CL Problems were legion. The c riticisms o f his Cl Staff made by 
knowledgeable executives such as Colby, | | Blee, and others 

have considerable justification. Angleton’s pervading suspicions of 
Nosenko and other Soviet defectors had indeed stultified positive DO oper- 
ations against Soviet targets and in the process deprived the Intelligence 
Community of many needed intelligence insights into Soviet affairs. By 
1973, Cl affairs in CIA were unquestionably in disarray, and Cl Chief 
Angleton was in poor personal shape. Colby was wholly justified in hold- 
ing that major Q changes, long overdue, should be made. 

Nevertheless, the manner in which Colby effected these changes, and 
the Cl processes he substituted for Angleton’s, are subject to question. 
Here Colby’s style was as secretive and solitary in its own way as 
Angleton's. On many issues Colby was dead certain that he simply 
“knew” the truth, whether the issue was “nation building” in Vietnam, 
publishing a current intelligence digest in newspaper form, or killing the 
Office of National Estimates. As we have seen, Colby had no doubts about 

*^*Rocca interviews by Ford, 12 and 19 August 1987; interview by Ford, 7 October 

Edward J. Epstein, Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald (New York: 
McGraw-Hill, 1978), p. 274. Rocca’s view of Epstein: “a very keen and cunning author, one 
whom I admire'’ (Rocca interview by Ford, 19 August 1987). 



William E. Colby 

reining in Angleton’s wide discretionary powers and bringing needed new 
light into the Cl world. In acting upon his certainties concerning Cl, a field 
in which he had not had much detailed experience, Colby tended to spring 
his schemes full blown on Angleton and his Cl lieutenants without consul- 
tation. Moreover, Colby seemed to entertain a certain casualness about Cl: 
its importance, its purposes, and the priorities and resources it should com- 
mand. He gave rather short shrift to entreaties for strengthening Cl efforts 
in Vietnam, both as C/FE Division in 1965, and later as Chief of CORDS 
from 1968 to 1972, when he preferred to rely on Vietnamese liaison for 
such Cl services. Colby’s confidence in the Government of South 
Vietnam’s (GVN) counterintelligence capabilities seems open to question, 
especially in view of the later revelations that the North Vietnamese and 
the Viet Cong had penetrated South Vietnamese society and government, 
even within South Vietnam’s own security and intelligence services, far 
more thoroughly than had been appreciated at the time. 

At the very least, Colby could have relieved Angleton of his duties in 
a more gentlemanly, compassionate manner than the style he chose. He 
could have let Angleton go in circumstances that did not suggest that he 
was being fired in response to Seymour Hersh’s allegations. Colby did try 
to absolve Angleton from Hersh’s charges. Indeed, Hersh reported that 
Colby had been considering Angleton’s replacement ‘‘for a long time,” that 
Angleton had told his associates that he was not leaving because he did 
anything wrong, and that Colby was “known to feel that the former C.LA. 
counterintelligence chief was not guilty of any wrongdoing.” Similarly, 
Colby himself has consistently maintained that the publication of Hersh’s 
charges and Angleton’s departure were simply coincidence. In 1978, Colby 
wrote that “my comments to Hersh and my testimony about CIA during 
1975 had absolutely no connection with my professional differences of 
opinion with Mr. James Angleton over how counterintelligence should be 
conducted in the CIA.”**^ Nine years later, in an interview with Harold 
Ford, he said, “The timing of Angleton’s going was bad, by coinci- 
dence. ... It was not my intent at all that his leaving should appear to be 
related to the Hersh storm that had just broken over CIA.”“ 

Nonetheless, the prevailing impression — ^highlighted all the more 
during the various investigations of CIA during the period 1975-76 — was 
that the two events, Angleton’s departure and Hersh’s charges against the 
Agency, were closely related and that Colby had indeed used Hersh’s jour- 
nalistic coup as a lever to help him solve his longstanding problem with 
James Angleton. This view is shared by a vidde range of observers.®’ Even 

^‘Seymour Hersh, The New York Times^ 24 December 1974. 

"WiUiam Colby, letter to editor. Commentary (October 1978). 

“Colby interview by Ford, 3 February 19 87. 

"Blee interview by Ford, 6 August 1987;|^ Interview by Ford, 3 November 1987; Cord 
Meyer, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA (New York: Harper and Row, 
1980); John Raneiagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA (New York: Simon and 
Schuster, 1987); Robin W. Winks, Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret Wars, 1939-1961 
(New York: William Morrow & Co.. 1987); Edward J. Epstein, “The War Within the QA,’" 
Commentary (August 1978). 

Firing James Angleton 


Colby contradicts himself on this issue, admitting that there was a certain 
connection between the publication of Hersh’s allegations and his own de- 
cision to bring his long war of attrition against Angleton to a close. Colby 
concedes that he knew that Hersh was going to publish some kind of 
charges against CIA, whether he consented to talk with Hersh or not, Colby 
was sure that a big fuss would be raised in the public and that a lot of it 
would center around Angleton, rightly or wrongly. In view of Angleton s 
condition at the time and of the many pressures at work within the 
Colby had decided that he simply did not want Angleton to be around. At 
the time, Colby appears to have concluded that Hersh’ s charges would 
discredit Angleton, whether or not he was still aboard CIA. In choosing the 
managerial course he did, however, Colby gave credence to the image of 
James Angleton as a miscreant, responsible for the alleged CIA misconduct 
that Hersh was charging. Yet it is also true that Colby had decided that 
Angleton must go, and had set the process in motion, before Hersh called. 

In sum, the results of Colby’s handling of CIA’s counterintelHgence 
imbroglio were mixed. Although Angleton ’s Cl empire had developed 
many ills over the years that he headed Cl, CIA had not become a sieve of 
penetrations, such as had been the experience of the British, West German, 
and French intelligence services.^^ Despite their frailties, James Angleton 
and his Cl colleagues deserved both better personal treatment from 
Director Colby than they received, and a time and manner of departure that 
did not tar them with Hersh’s charges of CIA misconduct. Furthermore, the 
processes Colby substituted for the previous Cl structure introduced a 
number of new problems. In correcting for Angleton s paranoia and over- 
centralizing of Cl authority, Colby did strengthen the Soviet Division’s 
ability to conduct positive operations against Bloc targets. But, by scatter- 
ing Cl responsibilities around the Directorate of Operations, at times to 
officers relatively inexperienced in O matters, Colby introduced sizable 
new Cl problems. 

In all, by substituting a new set of Cl problems for those that had 
been obtained under Angleton, Colby did not measurably advance US Cl 

“CoIby interview by Ford, 9 August 1988.. , , . 

‘1:his does not mean, of course, that CIA would have been significantly penetrated had 
officers other than Angleton and his colleagues been running CIA’s Cl effort all those years. 





Chapter 7 

Seymour Hersh’s Charges Against the CIA 

n“.1 W S 

David A. Phillips* 

I like Sy in a way. He’s an arrogant son-of-a-bitch Hp»c rm^ ^v. 

Ray S. Cline^ 

nrn ^ersfa’s exposc of alleged “massive” CIA domestic im 

AnZ long-gathering stonn between To% Z 

aS facilitated Colby’s task of firint 

vesSZonZof ?u ^ stimulating major in 

vesugations of CU and setting in tram Colby’s own dismissal 

Hersh s charges against the CIA did not suddenly drop from the 

clouds at the end of December 1974 . Behind his indictment oTLrencv 

pateZ"m CIA had 

he beean Watergate. Hersh’s search expanded once 

Hersh® ,1 ® information about CIA’s “family jewels ” 

“ cf jir“7h? “family jewels” compilation 

Wote nies Schlesinger had ordered in the wake of May 1973 

dn and on past CIA activities Colby had largely dosed 

wn y the time The New York Tunes ran Hersh’s explosive article. 

S’ ”'■ ’ 



William E. Colby 

Gamma-Liaison ® 

Seymour Hersh 

As far back as November 1972, Hersh had told House intelligence 
subcommittee Chairman Lucien Nedzi that he had information that the CIA 
was engaged in “extensive domestic operations.” In February 1973, DCI 
Schlesinger learned that Hersh was working on an article for The New York 
Times that was “apt to expose sensitive intelligence operations [the Glomar 
Explorer].”^ In March, Hersh asked for an interview with Schlesinger but 
was refused. In May, however, Schlesinger did order ail CIA officers to 

Glomar Explorer issue is discussed in chapter 12. 

Seymour Hersh ’s Charges 

report whether CIA was now, or had been in the past, involved in any 
illegal activities. This was the first of several steps taken by Schlesinger 
and Colby to draw up what became the “family jewels” list. 

Just why Schlesinger initiated this action is unclear. According to 
Ray Rocca, Angleton’s deputy, Schlesinger was guilty of “the most absurd 
act in completely losing his head in the ‘tell me everything’ matter of what 
became known as the ‘family jewels,’ the Agency’s skeletons.” Rocca sur- 
mises that the idea of examining the record for examples of misconduct 
was something Schlesinger brought in with him from the White House 
people when he first became DCI: “Apparently Schlesinger hadn’t been 
told about everything, so he felt he must take a look at all the possible 
skeletons.”*^ Ray Cline’s explanation is that Schlesinger initiated the 
“family jewels” exercise “because he felt it should be done, and so he 
could cover his ass. He passed this exercise off to Bill. I’ve always seen 
this experience of Colby’s as something of a Greek fate overcoming Bill, 
because, when he became DCI he couldn’t get out from under, and because 
this caused him to run afoul of Dick Helms — who represented an entirely 
different world and a different time.”^ 

By late May 1973, in response to Schlesinger’s order, CIA’s Office of 
the Inspector General had compiled a list of “potential flap activities.” 
That listing ran to a startling 693 page.s of possible violations of or at least 
questionable activities in regard to the CIA’s legislative charter. Items 
listed included: (1) the CHAOS operation against the domestic antiwar 
movement; (2) CIA connections with Watergate figures; (3) CIA surveil- 
lance and bugging of American journalists in the hope of locating the 
sources of leaks and sensitive materials; (4) an earlier mail intercept pro- 
gram; (5) drug experiments, including some that had involved the use of 
the hallucinogen LSD; (6) CIA joint operations with the Bureau of 
Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and with local police departments; (7) data 
exchange with the FBI on Americans deemed to be threats to the security 
of the Agency; and (8) a survey of CIA’s involvement in assassination at- 
tempts against Castro, the Congo’s Lumumba, and the Dominican 
Republic’s Trujillo.® This “family jewels” list, later expanded, formed the 
primary basis both for Hersh’s December 1974 charges against the CIA, 
and for Colby’s subsequent revelations to the Rockefeller and 
Congressional investigative bodies. 

In June 1973, DCI Schlesinger issued another similar order to all 
CIA officers, occasioned by new charges raised by Watergate figure 
Charles Colson that the CIA was responsible for Watergate. Colby’s 

^Rocca interview by Ford, 12 August 1987.- 
^Clinc interview by Ford, 31 March 1988. 

According to Colby’s secretary, | |(at the time| 

told his DCI successor, SchlesingW, that there were any such sKeietons m CL . 
later told an i nterviewer: **That’s the fi rst time Fv e ever expressed that to anyone. It was very 
closely held” | interview by 

E)C, 3 March l9b8). 

Helms had not 
's closet (f 

Tape recording, Washington, 


Wiliam E, Colby 


recollection is that Schlesinger “was sore as hell. He said, ‘I thought we 
were supposed to get everything from Watergate together. Goddamn it, let’s 
find out where these time bombs are. Find out what they all are so we 
don*t trip over land mines/ I guess he called them. So that is what 
launched the investigation.”’ 

Thereafter, in August 1973, following a flurry of Congressional con- 
cern, DCI-designate Colby issued a critically significant set of instructions 
for all Agency officers. Henceforth, no CIA officer was to “engage in 
assassination nor induce, assist or suggest to others” that any such activi- 
ties be employed. Colby limited Operation MHCHAOS to the collection 
abroad of information on foreign activities related to domestic individuals 
and ordered the CIA not to participate in opening any US mail. Colby also 
prohibited drug testing on unwitting subjects. Colby later explained that, 
with that set of directives signed and issued, he felt he could take the oath 
to support and defend the Constitution of the United States “without any 
mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”^ 

That autumn, soon after becoming DCI, Colby learned that Seymour 
Hersh was making inquiries about past CIA operations and instructed all 
CIA deputies not to honor Hersh’s requests for an interview.^ Early in 
1974, however, Colby himself met with Hersh to request that he not leak 
information he had gained concerning the very sensitive Glomar Explorer 
operation. In response, Hersh assured Colby that he would not release any 
such data without first checking with him.'*^ 

For some months after that, all was fairly quiet concerning Hersh’s 
inquiries until that journalist telephoned Colby on 9 December 1974 to tell 
him that he was now embarked on a wholly different undertaking — a big 
news story on past illegal CIA op erations within the United States. 
According tq Stenographic notes, Hersh told Colby, 

“I think if I crapped around long enough [on this] I could come up with a 
half-assed story. I understand there is nothing [earth-shaking] — that they 
were routine activities that were curtailed.” Colby replied that he had in- 
structed his CIA officers some months before to report any instances of 
such illegalities or questionable activities: “We sent out a memo to our 
people saying ‘If you hear anything tell us/ We got a few blips.”'* Later 
that same day, Colby informed House oversight Chairman Nedzi of this 
conversation and learned that Hersh had seen the Congressman that after- 
noon with the same story. 

[tape recording, Washington, DC, 15 January 1988 
January 1988) 

^William Colby, interview by 
(hereafter cited as Colby interview oyi 
*CoIby, Honorable Men, p. 349. L 

’Minutes of DCFs Morning Meeting, 28 October 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, CIA Archives and Records Center 
’°CoIbv. Honorable Men, p p. 389 and 416. 

] stenographic account of Colby-Hersh telephone conversation, 

9 uecemoer ly/^. aiFoT her accounts for this chapter may be found in CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 23, CIA Archives and Records Center ^[^sfi«^RecalI 
that CIA’s IG had amassed 693 pages of “blips,” 


Seymour Hersh's Charges 

One week later, on 16 December, former DDO Karamessines told 
Colby that he, too, had heard from Hersh, who claimed that, according to 
sources of his within both Congress and the Agency, former DCI Helms 
and his Cl chief, Angleton, had engaged in domestic operations in violation 
of the 4th Amendment. Karamessines told^Colby that the story Hersh was 

writing would make Helms look very bad.*^ 

The next day, 17 December, DDO William Nelson phoned to tell 
Colby that Hersh had found out about the “family jewels” and was about 
to charge that James Angleton had been responsible for CIA’s illegal 
domestic operations. Colby told Nelson that Senator Symington had coun- 
seled him that, if he was going to do something about Angleton, he had 
better do it before rather than after Hersh’s article appeared. Colby, 
however, did not follow Symington’s advice. 

On 18 December, Hersh began to turn the screws. “I figure I have 
about one-tenth of 1 percent of the story which you and I talked about,” he 
warned in a phone note he left for Colby, “which is more than enough, I 
think, to cause a lot of discombobulation, which is not my purpose. I want 
to write it this weekend, / am willing to trade with you. I will trade you 
Jim Angleton for 14 files of my choice. 1 will be in my office at the Times 
in 30 minutes.''^* 

Colby, understandably perplexed, did not immediately return Hersh s 
call but did phone Congressman Nedzi to inform I nm of Hersh’s; message. 

This Colby-Nedzi conversation, transcribed by 

deserves noting in some detail: 

Nedzi; I talked with him [Hersh] a short time ago, and I guess that is 
about the message. Who is Jim Angleton? 

Colby; He is the head of our counterintelligence. He is kind of a legen- 
dzuy character. He has been around for 150 years or so. He is a very 
spooky guy. His reputation is one of total secrecy and no one knows 
what he is doing. We know what he is doing, but he is a little bit out 
of date in terms of seeing Soviets under every bush. 

Nedzi; What is he doing talking to Hersh? 

Colby; I do not think he is. Hersh called him and wanted to talk with him, 
but he said he would not talk with him. 

Nedzi: Sy showed me notes of what he said and claims he [Angleton] was 

Colby; You catch me twelve hours ahead of an unpleasant chore of talking 
to him about a substantial change of his [Angleton* s] responsibili- 
ties. . . . 

Nedzi: There is a bit of a problem for you. What occurs here is all of a sud- 
den a guy is telling things about — and he is going back to that meet- 
ing we had in which you briefed me on all the — he used the same 
term, incidentally, “jewels.” 

stenographic account, 16 December 1974. 
stenographic account, 17 December 1974. 
stenographic account, 18 December 1974. Emphasis added. 

William E, Colby 


Colby: Hersh did? 

Nedzi: Yes. 

Colby: I wander where he got that word. It was used by [only] a few peo- 
ple around here. 

Nedzi: The problem that occurs to me right now is here is a guy who is try- 
ing to expose the Agency, and all of a sudden he gets sacked. 

Colby: Yes. I think what Fll do is talk to Hersh ... but brace myself 
for whatever he does write and be prepared to answer whatever 
comes out. Meanwhile, I have to proceed on the Angleton thing any- 
way. I frankly have been, I wanted to do it about six to eight months 
ago and was dissuaded out of human compassion because he is com- 
pletely wrapped up in his work. 

Later that same day, Hersh got through to Colby on the phone, telling 
him he was writing a story that would be coming out on Sunday, 
22 December. Hersh requested a meeting before then and told Colby that 
the “most disturbing item’' he had was the fact that Angleton had been “so 
indiscreet [on the phone].” At this, Colby took the fatal step and agreed to 
see Hersh on Friday morning, 20 December. 

In the meantime, several CIA officers, including David Blee (a suc- 
cessor of Angleton’s as Chief of CIA’s Cl Staff), counseled Colby not to 
see Hersh. Nonetheless, at 0930 on. Friday, 20 December, Colby greeted 
Hersh in the DCFs office. Why had Colby changed his mind about seeing 
Hersh? The principal reasons apparently were Angleton ’s indiscretions, 
Colby’s desire to set the record straight and do as much damage control as 
he could, and his feeling that he “owed Hersh and The New York Times one 
because they had previously gotten hold of the Glomar Explorer thing but 
held off printing their story in response to my pleas.”'* 

At their fateful meeting, Hersh told Colby that several sources had 
revealed that the Agency had been engaged in a “massive” operation 
against the antiwar movement, including wiretaps, break-ins, mail inter- 
cepts, and surveillance of US citizens. Realizing that this story was a 
garble of the “family jewels” list that the CIA itself had compiled, Colby 
sought to correct and put in perspective Hersh’s exaggerated account. 
Colby explained that an operation [MHCHAOS] had undertaken to 
discover whether the American antiwar movement was supported or 
manipulated by foreign powers, such matters properly falling under CIA’s 

stenographic account, 18 December 1974. 

stenographic account. 18 December 1974. Later that same day Colby 
caIIea~A'ngiaW in oncc again and tol d him that he had decided to make some changes in the 
CIA’s coanterintelligence l I Recounts and that he wanted Angleton to become njerely 
a consultant on those matters. When the Cl chief rejected this proposition outright, Colby 
asked him to think the matter over for a couple of days to “decide whether he would like to 
stay on in the way I described or whether he would choose to retire completely before the 
[31 December] deadline for the [retirement] benefits” (Colby, Honorable Men, pp. 387-388). 
”Blee interview by Ford, 6 August 1987. 

“Colby interview by Ford, 3 February 1987, 

Seymour Hersh's Charges 

charter, but that this operation had been terminated. He also explained that 
the other CIA activities of which Hersh had learned — mail intercepts, 
wiretaps, and surveillance of American citizens — were in no way CIA 
operations against the Vietnam antiwar movement but were cases where the 
CIA had acted under its responsibility to protect intelligence sources and 
techniques against leaks. Colby admitted that “on some few occasions” the 
CIA had “overstepped the boundaries of its charter” in using such surveil- 
lance techniques within the United States. The important point, however, 
was that the Agency had conducted its own review of such activities in 
1973 and had issued a series of directives making it clear that CIA 
henceforth must stay within the law. “So you see, Sy,” Colby concluded, 
“you would be wrong if you went ahead with your story in the way you’ve 
laid it out What you have are a few incidents of the Agency straying from 
the straight and narrow. There certainly was never anything like a ‘massive 
illegal domestic intelligence operation.’ What few mistakes we made in the 
past have long before this been corrected. And there is certainly nothing 
like that going on now.”'^ 

There the matter rested for the moment. Or so Colby thought. He 
clearly believed that he had pulled the teeth of the forthcoming article. 
Later that same day, for example, Colby phoned Senator. Stennis to tell him 
that Hersh had “a lot of dibs and dabs ... a whole lot of little things that 
are not related, but each one has a little smidgeon of truth to it . . . there 
are probably a couple of things in the old records that do not stand up too 
well, but that sort of thing has been stopped and is not going to be 
resumed.”'® Years later, Colby’s recollection of this episode is that “I met 
with him [Hersh] and told him that yes, there had been a few minor such 
incidents in the past, but that they had now been corrected, and so forth. 
Despite these efforts of mine, however, Hersh insisted in blowing up these 
matters out of all proportiori.”^‘ 

Colby closed his fateful 20 December by firing Angleton. After first 
checking on Angleton’s condition with CIA’s chief medical officer, 
Ik, John Tietjen, Colby once again called in his Cl Chief and told him that 
his earlier decision to remove him was firm, whatever the Hersh article 
might say. 

Hersh ’s article duly appeared in The New York Times two days later, 
on Sunday, 22 December. Claiming dozens of sources among former CIA, 
FBI, and other officials, as well as “well-placed Government sources,” his 
article went far beyond Colby’s “dibs and dabs.” The Times front-page 
headline read, “Huge C.I.A, Operation Reported in U.S. Against Antiwar 
Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years, Files on Citizens. Helms 
Reportedly Got Surveillance Data in Charter Violation.” The subheading 

Colby, Honorable Men , pp, 390-391. 

J ~| stenographic account, 21 December 1974, 

c.oioy interview by Ford, 3 February 1987. 


William E. Colby 

indicted the CIA for violating its charter and conduc^g a massive, illegal 
operation against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups within 
the United States. Not least, the article singled o^ James Angleton as hav- 
ing directed the domestic operations in question. 

Whatever Colby’s good intentions, Hersh’s article raised an immedi- 
ate firestorm in Congress, the media, and the White House the latter 
demanding that Colby brief President Ford at once on the accuracy of 
Hersh’s charges. The President’s dismay was wholly understandable. 
Incredibly, Colby had never briefed Kissinger or any other White House 
officer on CIA’s list of “family jewels” or on Colby’s interview with 
Hersh, let alone the fact that Hersh was about to let loose a political bomb. 
As Colby later admitted, “what I had totally overlooked ^was the fact that 
neither President Nixon, nor Ford, nor Kissinger had ever been apprised of 
the family jewels list.”“ 

Colby’s recollection is that, upon compiling the jewels list m 1973, 
he did brief the major figures in Congressional oversight— Congressmen 
Nedzi and F. Edward Hebert (D-LA), as well as Senators Stennis and 
Symington — ^but didn’t think about briefing the White House. As Colby 

The curious thing is, I never really thought about it, why didn’t we brief the 
White House? Say, Kissinger? I think I didn’t think of it because Schlesinger 
was stiU in charge, and he didn’t think of it. I asked him about it one time 
and he said something to the effect that, "Oh hell, with that bunch of charac- 
ters down there.” So it was almost as though he had made a decision not to 
brief them. But, 1 never had a conversation with him about it. It just never 
arose; we never even focused on “Should we brief the White House or not” 
and come to an answer. Never answered the question, never even posed the 
question. In retrospect, it is curious that you don’t think of such an obvious 
thing. If you are going to brief the two chairmen, at l^t you ought to do is 
to brief somebody in the White House that you trust. 

Following the appearance of Hersh’s article, Colby quickly whipped 
together a report for the President and personally hand-carried it to 
Kissinger on Tuesday, 24 December. Kissinger took the report to Ford, 
who was vacationing in Vail, Colorado. 

Colby’s report was remarkable on several scores. Bearing an overall 
classification of Secret Sensitive, the report consisted of nine classified 
appendixes, topped by an unclassified six-page, single-spaced covering let- 
ter, which gave the President the option of publishing part or all of Colby’s 
defense publicly. The report’s sensitive appendixes were copies of earlier 

‘The New York Times, 22 December 1974. Excerpts from this article are given at appendix C. 

^Colby, Honorable Men, p. 394^ ^ v# u iocs 

' ' * [tape recording, Washington, DC, 15 March l98o 

■^5 March 1988) 

^^William Colby, interview by[ 
(hereafter cited as Colby interview by[ 





Seymour Hersh's Charges 

documents setting forth or canceling certain of the various CIA domestic 
operations in question. In short, it was a documentation of the ‘'family 
jewels.” In his unclassified report, Colby went beyond Hersh’s charges and 
told the President that the CIA had held files on 14 “past and present 
Members of Congress,” had in certain specific cases conducted surveil- 
lance on American citizens, and had been involved in some operations con- 
nected with organized crime, drug testing and trafficking, and the 
preparation of secret dossiers on certain US citizens.^ 

According to Colby’s memoirs, it was in this “Vail Report” that he 
first raised the issue of CIA’s involvement in assassination planning. This 
led Kissinger, after discussing the question with Colby on 24 December, to 
understand why the DCI had not been able to flatly deny Hersh’s allega- 
tions.^® Colby’s more recent recollection, however, is. that he did not 
include the assassination issue in his report because the questions at hand 
concerned domestic matters and because he wanted to talk personally with 
the President about the very sensitive question of assassination.^’ Colby 
recalls that he did brief the President on this subject on 3 January 1975, 
shortly after Mr. Ford returned from Vail.^* 

Having submitted his report, Colby suffered nine days of “deafening 
silence” from the White House. He not illogically concluded that “the 
White House planned to ‘distance’ itself from the CIA ^d its troubles (as 
the CIA had distanced itself from the White House during Watergate), that 
it was going to draw the wagons around — and leave me isolated and 
exposed on the outside.” Colby felt lonely, but “saw a certain logic in the 
Ford administration’s determination not to take on almost 30 years of CIA’s 

When the President finally discussed Hersh’s allegations with Colby 
on 3 January, he told the DCI that he was considering putting together a 
blue-ribbon commission to conduct an investigation of CIA’s domestic 
activities to answer The New York Times charges. This was the genesis of 
the Rockefeller Commission, whose formation the White House announced 
on 6 January.^® 

Even though President Ford had by this time informed the public that 
CIA was not engaged in any illegal domestic activities, administration 
officials remained dismayed by the manner in which their DCI had helped 
create this flap. By neglecting to warn Kissinger and the President of CIA’s 

“Colby’s report may be found in CIA ffistory Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, CIA 
Archives and Records Center 
“Colby, Honorable Men, pp. ?^395. 

Colby intervievt' by 
“Colby interview by>Ofa;“ 9 r 
Report to President Ford includes no mention of assassinations. 
^Colby, Honorable Men, p. 398. 

p March 1988. 

August 1988. The CIA’s present file copy of Colby’s Vail 


William E. Colby 

Ust of “family jewels” or of Hersh’s impending charges, Colby had blind- 
sided the White House. Nor did Colby’s report of 24 December help mat- 
ters 'much; it bears clear signs of having been whipped together in gre^ 
haste. Indeed, the following conversation took place the day after Hersh’s 
article appeared, when a White House staffer phoned Colby to teh him that 
“Henry” wanted the DCI to submit a written report to the President: 

Colby: All right, well, 1 will get one. I have a lot of backup, but I can state 
the general points. All right, fine, I will send one up to you 

Staffer: That will be fine, tomorrow morning will be fine. 

Colby: I will dictate it tonight and have it up to you in the morning. 

Some defenders of James Angleton have placed a dark interpretation 
on Colby’s preparation of this report. For example, one of Angleton’s fore- 
most champions, Edward Jay Epstein, has written; 

That it was Colby himself who had. engineered the leak [to Hersh] had also 
become clear in the meantime to members of the C M’s countenntellige nce 
staff who had been forced to resign on account of it. | p en 

Chief of Operations for Counterintelligence, discoverea inai c-oiuy s leport 
to the President had been prepared within a day of the story s appearance in 
the Times. Analyzing the research that had gone into the document, he con- 
cluded that Colby could not possibly have written it within such a brier 

The reality is in fact much less sinister: Colby’s Vail report consisted 
simply of file documents quickly pulled together and tacked on as ap- 
pendixes to a hastily composed covering letter. That letter looks as if it 
were run up within an hour or so — ^with fateful consequences. Rather than 
firmly and concisely pointing up Hersh’s errors, thus, minimizing his 
against the CIA, Colby’s report obfuscated the issue by restating a long list 
of past CIA misdeeds. In all, Colby’s report made a fairly soggy case for 
the CIA: it tended to confirm Hersh’s allegations, and further confused the 
matter by adding questionable past CIA activities that Hersh had not 
included in his article. 

Colby’s report did not calm the President or Kissinger, but rather pro- 
voked concern about what other skeletons CIA might have in its closets and 
about the DCI’s managerial judgment. Indeed, in immediately setting up die 
RockefeUer Commission, President Ford stated that Colby’s report M “raised 
enough questions” about CIA activities to warrant an investigatian. 

Colby’s handling of the Hersh affair raises many questions. Why did 
Colby change his mind and agree to see Hersh? What did he expect to 
achieve? One reason appears to be that Angleton’s indiscreet revelations to 

^The New York Times, 1 January 1975. _ 

3| 1 stenographic account, 23 December 1974. 

Edward Epstein, War Within the CIA,” Commentary (August 1978): p. 36. 



Seymour Hersh Charges 

Hersh encourage^Colby to conclude that any charges Hersh might tnaVp 
against the CIA wou^ease his own problems of how and when to move 
Angleton out at last. Mbrepver, because Colby was indebted to Hersh for 
havmg kept his silence on the very sensitive Glomar Explorer operation 
and because Hersh essentially already had the “family jewels” story and 
was about to publish it, Colby apparently believed he could do some 
damage control and put his own spin on Hersh’s story. In any event. Colby 
clearly believed the whole matter could be contained and would prove to 
be only a transient flap. Indeed, Angleton told Hersh that Colby had as- 
sured Angleton that The New York Times story would not affect Angleton’s 
decision whether or not to resign, since the Hersh story would “all blow 
over in two or three days.”’" 

Colby’s assessment of the situation, then it is 
difficult to quarrel with DO officer Cord Meyer’s conclusion that Colby 
was guilty of “atrociously bad judgment and appalling naivete.”” Clearly, 
Colby seriously underestimated the flap’s impact on Congress, the White 
House, and the general pubUc. Furthermore, by confirming Hersh’s story 
without having alerted the President to the “family jewels.” Colby 
preempted the White House’s decisionmaking authority on an explosive 
pohUcal issue. Not least, the Hersh episode underlined how self-defeating 
Colby s openness would prove when those involved had already concluded 
at the Agency could do no right and would have no spin but their own 
placed on assessments of CIA conduct. 

Unfortunately for Colby, the Angleton and Hersh affairs were not the 
only storms that broke around him that Black December. He now faced not 
only sharp White House displeasure, the prospect of a Presidential 
Kockefeller Commission, and looming Congressional investigations, but 
also the volatile issue of charges that former DCI Richard Helms had per- 
jured himself in his Congressional testimony about Chile. 

Executive Order 11905, 4 January 1975, QA History Staff records, job 90B00336R box 2 
OA Arciuves and Records Center. oox 

Se^mow I”®":! ^0 December meeting. 

A \A Angleton Story, The New York Times Magazine, 25 June 1978 n 73 

Rori980rp. 20x"" “d 






Chapter 8 

Charges Against Richard Helms 

It IS firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. It 
would be much preferable to have this transpire prior to 24 October 
[presidential runoff election], but efforts in this regard will continue 
vigorously beyond this date. 

Thomas Karamessines, Deputy Director for Plans, 

Cable 802, HQs to Chile Station, 16 October 1970* 

Did you try in the Central Intelligence Agency to 
overthrow the government of Chile? 

No, sir. 

Did you have money passed to the opponents of 

No, sir. 

So the stories you were involved in that war are 

Yes, sir. I said to Senator Fulbright many months 
ago that if the Agency had really got in behind the 
other candidates and spent a lot of money and so 
forth the election might have come out differently. 

Senate Hearings for Richard Helms as Ambassador to Iran,* 

7 February 1973 

As quoted in US Congress, Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with 
Kespect to Intelligence Activities (Church committee). Interim Report, Alleged Assassination 
^ots Involving Foreign Uaders, 94th Cong., 1st scss., 20 November 1975 (hereafter cited as 
Lnurch committee. Alleged Assassination Plots), p. 254. 

US Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearing, CIA Foreign and Domestic 
Activities, 94th Cong., 1st sess., 22 January 1975, secret hearing held 22 January 1975, sani- 
tized and made public on 10 February 1975 (hereafter cited as Senate Committee on Foreign 
Heims testimony), p. 4. Note this comment on the issue by author John Ranelagh: 
Un Febmaiy 7, 1973, Helms had publicly testified during the hearings for his nomination as 
inbMsador to Iran and on March 6, 1973, in executive session before the Senate Foreign 
Keiations Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations that the CIA had not tried to over- 
throw the Chilean Government (true; Track Tl was against Allende and not the government as 
such), md had not given money to candidates opposing Allende (true; money had been given 
0 parties and organizations, not to individual candidates), and had not cooperated with ITT 
Telephone and Telegraph Corporation] in either venture (again technically true* 
the effort had been to prevent AUende^s being elected president)” (Ranelagh, The Agency, p! 

Senator Symington; 

Mr. Helms: 

Senator Symington: 

Mr Helms: 

Senator Symington; 

Mr. Helms: 



William E. Colby 

Coincident with his troubles with Angleton and Hersh, Colby’s BlacV 
ecember of 1974 brought still another thorny problem; how to respond to 
Congressional charges that former DCI Richard Helms had given i^slead- 
mg tesbmony about earlier US covert efforts to prevent Salvador Allende 
from becoming president of ChUe. This would have been an unwelcome 
legacy for any new DCI; as it was, the problem of how to deal with possi- 
ble peijury charges against a previous— and popular— Director of Central 
nearly overwhelmed Colby. This issue starMy outlined Colby’s 
and Ifelms’s contrasting styles — Colby committed to a more forthright 

open CIA, and Helms maintained that CIA’s traditional reticence was the 
correct course. 

In general terms, the roots of the charges against Helms lay in the 
growing impatience in Congress with CIA’s loose accountability and the 
consequent rising sentiment for more meaningful oversight of US intelli- 
gence In specific terms, however, the roots of the charges against Hehns 
date from 15 September 1970, when President Nixon had summoned 
Helms to the White House and directed him to undertake a super-secret 
covert operation (known later as Track II) to prevent the election of 

! K president of Chile in the forthcoming 

24 October runoff election in the Chilean Congress. “[T]he President came 
down very hard that he wanted something done, and he didn’t much care 
how. Helms later recaUed. “If I ever carried a marshall’s [sic] baton in 
my knapsack out of the Oval Office, it was that day.”' The next day 
Septemb^ Heims explained this commission to his principal covert 
op^tions officers. “President Nixon had decided that an Allende regime 
m CMe was unacceptable to the United States,” Helms told his colleagues 
according to a CIA memorandum of that meeting. The President, therefore’ 
asked *e Agency to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat 
him. Helins reported that the President had ordered him to undertake 
this project umlaterally, i.e., without the knowledge or consent of other 
agencies of the government, the 40 Committee, etc.” To that end 
President had authorized the expenditure of up to 
$10 million with more available “if we needed it”‘ This operation cLe 
to be called Track II, to distinguish it from Track I covert action also 
aimed to prevent the election of Allende, which the 40 Committee had 
approved and which CIA carried out with the Department of State’s 
knowledge and cooperation. 

mZ comparison of the styles of Colby and Helms (Thomas Powers The 

^ ^ Pocket Books, 1979], pp. 

'Church committee, Alleged Assassination Plots, pp. 227-228 auotim- CIA 
Memorandum/Genesis of the Project, 16 September 1970 * ^ ^ 

Ibi±, p. 228. 

Memorandum for the Record, 

boxffolS rfa A V 1970 CIA Histoo- Staff records, job 90B00336R. 

dox 2, folder 24, CIA Archives and Records Center 



Charges Against Richard Helms 

T ^ TT ivissmger loia tne uiurch committee that 

Track n w^ supposed to have ended, as far as he was concerned on 

* Alexander Haig had met at the White House 

*• P^^ns, Thomas Karamessines. It was “for- 

m^y terminated, Kissinger explained, “by a new Presidential marching 
order issued prior to the October 24 vote in the Chilean Congress ” 
Kissinger disagreed “totally” with DDP Karamessines’ testimon^o the 
contrary. As indicated in the quotation at the beginning of this chapter 
Karamessines on 16 October 1970 cabled OA’s Santiago Station thL ii 
remained firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a 

oH Augm Ills committee 

„e,er.X - A, far as I w,. concamad. Track U „„ raall, 

Over a year later the question of CIA’s role in the 1970 Chilean 
presidential elections arose again. In March of 1972, columnist Jack 
Anderson charged that CIA had worked closely with Intemafional 
Telephone and Telegraph Coiporation to protect ITT’s interests by creating 

Chilean, to pull a coup that would block Allende from coming to 

power. In early 1973, Anderson’s allegations became the subject of 

. inquuy by toe Multinational Corporations Subcommittee of the sinate’s 

oreign Relations Committee, chaired by Frank Church. Moreover on 

tion^h™^ If Foreign Relations Committee’s confifma- 

appointment as Ambassador to Iran 

mlf to AU ^bout CIA’s 

le m AUende s election that are quoted at this chapter’s opening. It was 

Helms’s estimony at these two hearings that later produced iTor 
^ him— and for Colby. Testifying to these groups on 1 Febmarv 

md 6 March 1973, Helms had denied that the CIA had had any role in try- 

thf F D election. Two years later. Chairman Sparkman of 

the Forei^ Relations Committee reminded Helms that, in Mmch 1973 

mflTk n"”"? the [Chilean 1970 

wav “ ^ Allende as toe new President, did toe CIA attempt in any 

y to influence that vote?’ . . , You answered, ‘No sir.’”" 

OK testimony from Helms in February 1973 Senator 

21 fSu ^“J^^ational Coiporations Subcommittee informed the CIA on 
ruary 1973 that it had found "significant discrepancies” between 

Church Committee, Alleged Assassination Plots, p. 254. 

Committee, Alleged Assassination Plots, p. 251. 

Committee, Alleged Assassination Plots, p. 254 
^/ne Washington Post, 22 March 1972. 

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Helms testimony, p. 4. 



William E. Colby 

Helms's testimony and data ITT had supplied.'^ On that same day, 
Theodore Shackley (Chief, Western Hemisphere Division, DP) took the 
first step to limit damage to the Agency. He recommended to DC! 
Schlesinger that the Agency should, work toward having its testimony on 
1970 events in Chile moved from Senator Church’s Multinational 
Corporations Subcommittee to the Armed Services Special Subcommittee 
on Intelligence, where Senators Stennis or Symington “could be persuad- 
ed,” as Shackley phrased it, to work out an arrangement for the Director to 
make a “controlled appearance” before the Multinational Corporations 

Two days later, on 23 February 1973, Agency officers began quiet 
efforts with the help of Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a close friend of 
the CIA, to blunt Senator Church’s scrutiny of CIA, Chile, and Richard 
Helms. Jackson offered his protective assistance in a remarkable backstage 
meeting he had with Ted Shackley and CIA Congressional liaison chief 
John Maury the next day. According to Shackley’s account, Jackson felt 
strongly “that the first order of business” should be for DCI Schlesinger to 
discuss these issues with the White House, where “he should talk with no 
one other than President Nixon and Mr. Haldennan [sic].” Further, Jackson 
believed that the ultimate solution to the problem of how to deal with 
Church’s subcommittee was to get Senator John L. McClellan (D-AR), 
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, to call a session of his CIA 
Oversight Subcommittee to look into CIA’s earlier activities in Chile. 
According to Shackley, Jackson stated that, “once that was accomplished, 
the Oversight Committee would handle the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee.” Repeatedly commenting that Senator McClellan’s Oversight 
Subcommittee had the responsibility for protecting the Agency “in the type 
of situation that was inherent in the Church Subcommittee Hearings,” 
Jackson pledged to work with CIA “to see that we got this protection.” 
Shackley noted that Senator Jackson, who had been “extremely helpful,” 
believed that it was “essential” to prevent the establishing of any proce- 
dure that could call upon CIA to testify before a wide variety of 
Congressional committees. This, he concluded, would place CIA “in dire 
straits, both in terms of protecting intelligence sources and techniques as 
well as in dissipating its energies in dealing with capricious Congressional 
requests that would be never-ending.” Following that meeting, Shackley 

'^Theodore G. Shackley, Chief, Western Hemisphere Division/DP. Memorandum for James 
Schlesinger, Director of Central Intelligence, “Proposed CIA Response to Request for 
Information Which Have Been Received [sic] From the Senate Foreign Relations 
Subcommittee on Muitinationai Corporations,” 21 February 1973, CIA History Staff records, 
job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 24, CIA Archives and Records Center 

“Theodore G. Shackley, Chief, Western Hemisphere Division/DP, Memorandum for the 
Record, “Discussions with Senator Jackson Concerning the Senate Foreign Relations 
Subcommittee Hearings on Multinational Corporations,” 24 February 1973, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2. folder 24, CIA Archives and Records Center (S^^ 





Charges Against Richard Helms 

and Maury at once briefed Colby, who was then CIA’s Executive Director, 
and Tom Karamessines, the DDR DCI Schlesinger then asked Senator 
Jackson to set the wheels in motion for Senator McClellan to call a special 
meeting of his Oversight Committee. 

Three weeks later, on 13 March, CIA’s senatorial friends arranged to 
shield the Agency from unwanted scrutiny. This took the form of two 
dosed sessions of oversight groups on the same day — the first with Senator 
Church absent, and the second with him present. CIA officers gave quite 
different testimony on each occasion. 

The first of these meetings, on the morning of 13 March 1973, was a 
joint session of the CIA subcommittees of the Senate Armed Services and 
Appropriations Committees. Senators present were McClellan, Symington, 
Jackson, John Pastore (D-RI), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), and Roman 
Hruska (R-NE). Colby, Shackley, and Maury accompanied DCI 
Schlesinger. The DCI and Shackley gave a briefing on CIA’s earlier activi- 
ties in Chile. They pointed out that, in over 10 years since 1962, CIA 
covert action expenditures in Chile had totaled $11,293,000. Shackley 
described CIA’s operations as based on “orders from higher authority” 
with the objective of preventing a Marxist-Communist takeover of Chile’s 
Government. Senator Jackson explained that the meeting had been called to 
help Schlesinger protect intelligence sources and methods, “without get- 
ting into serious confrontation with Senator Church.” During his own serv- 
ice on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Symington commented, 
he had often found that committee inadequately informed about what was 
going on in the world — and it now appeared that Senator Church was 
“poorly informed about ITT and the Chile operation.”’^ 

That afternoon the same oversight groups met again, this time with 
Senator Church as a guest. The other Senators present were McClellan, 
Symington, and Hruska, while Schlesinger, Colby, Maury, and Shackley 
again represented CIA. Senator Church opened by explaining that his sub- 
committee had become interested in CIA’s involvement in Chile following 
columnist Jack Anderson’s allegations “some months ago” and that he 
now wanted to get CIA’s side of the story. DCI Schlesinger replied that at 
no time had any funds been exchanged between the Agency and ITT in 
Chile and that no joint activity had been agreed upon or undertaken. He 
further stated that the Agency’s policy directives from the 40 Committee 
for the 1970 Chilean presidential election added up to only (1) some 
$400,000 that the CIA had invested in a political “spoiling operation” call- 
ing attention to the dangers of an AUende victory; and (2) another $335, 
000 in standby authority that had in fact never been spent.'® Schlesinger 

‘^John Maury, Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Director’s Briefing 
of Joint Session of CIA Subcommittees of Senate Armed Services and Senate 
Appropriations — 13 March 1973,” 13 March 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, folder 24, CIA Archives and Records Center (*? 

'®John Maury, Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Senator Church’s 
Participation in Joint Session of CIA Subcommittees on Senate Armed Services and Senate 
Appropriations — 13 March 1973,” 13 March 1973, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, folder 24. CIA Archives and Records Center Pi i imiii irl 


William E. Colby 

was reporting only on Track I expenditures because the 40 Committee had 
not been informed of the Track II operation, which was still a closely held 

secret at this time. , . ... , . . 

These two sessions, morning and afternoon, deserve mgmignting. In 
the morning session. Senator Symington had commented that Senator 
Church was poorly informed about Chile, even though Church s subcom- 
mittee on Multinational Corporations had produced considerable testimony 
that contradicted Helms’s statements. Although Church was told m the 
afternoon gathering that CIA’s covert operations f ^ 

prevent Allende’s election in 1970 had amounted to only $400,000, plus 
$335,000 in standby authority, he was not given the larger figure of 
$11,293,000, covering all CIA activities in Chile from 1962 to 1973, which 
the DCI had given to the morning gathering in Church’s absence. Lastly, in 
neither session, morning or afternoon, did CIA officers say a word about 
Track II. These 13 March discussions were, of course, six months before 
the Chilean military coup of September 1973 in which Allende was 
deposed and lost his life. 

Church’s probings now blunted, the issue of CIA s involvement m 
Chde rested until April 1974, when DCI Colby testified in closed session 
to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. There he gave the coumuttee a 
fuller account of CIA’s past covert actions in Chile than previously given 
any Congressional committee. Later in April, Colby gave another detailed 
accounting to a closed session of Congressman Nedzi s Intelligence 
Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Comniittee. ft was^ on that 
occasion (as discussed in chapter 5) that he described in detail CIA s covert 
Track I operations and privately informed Chairman Nedzi of Track U. 

Colby’s April 1974 testimony to these House groups was notable on 
two counts. First, his forthright account of Track I operations contradicted 
Helms’s earlier testimony. Second, Colby’s revelation to Nedzi about Track 
n was the first time any executive branch officer had told a Congressional 
figure about these earlier supersecret White House^ directives of 
15 September 1970. The discrepancies between Helms’s and Colby’s 
testimonies became public knowledge on 13 September 1974, when a draft 
report by the staff of Senator Church’s Multinational Corporations 
Subcommittee was leaked to The Washington Star. According to that 
report, Church’s staff had recommended initiating, a perjury investigation 
against former DCI Helms and others. According to the Star, the dr^ 
report also accused Secretary of State Kissinger of having deceived the 
Foreign Relations Committee in sworn testimony. 

The Star account provoked an immediate flurry of media criticism of 
CIA and the White House. In response, three days later, on 16 September, 
President Ford publicly declared his support for CIA’s earlier covert Gyra- 
tions in 1970, stating that they had been in the best interests of the Chilean 
people The President also took the opportunity to deny that the CIA had 
been involved in the September 1973 military coup that had deposed 

” The Washington Star, 14 September 1974. 


Charges Against Richard Helms 

Allende. The next day. The New York Times published a contrary account 
of those covert operations. In that account, a Seymour Hersh interview 
with Ray Cline, a retired senior CIA officer and former Director of the 
Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, quoted Cline as 
maintaining that CIA’s program in Chile (Track I only — Track n had not 
yet become public) had been far broader than that just described by 
President Ford, having included the direct financing of a number of anti- 
AJlende trade groups and labor unions. Charging that Cline’s account 
“flatly contradicted” the descriptions of CIA’s role that Kissinger and the 
President had given the Congress and the public, Hersh added that Cline 
told him that the Department of State and the CIA had both been dubious 
about the Chile operations, but “naturally went along because the White 
House either Nixon or Dr. Kissinger, or both — decided to posh the 

Colby Investigates Heims 

Meanwhile, Colby directed CIA officers to begin studying the Helms 
case to determine whether or not the former DCI had committed perjury. 
After receiving a report from CIA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), 
Colby on 25 September 1974 noted for the record that OGC’s study “has 
resulted in no finding that there is clear evidence of peijury or other 
crimes. Accordingly, I have decided not to refer any of the matters 
discussed in that memorandum to the Attorney General at this time.” 
Colby added that the. question would continue to be studied and that 
“a final decision as to whether referral of any of these matters to the 
Attorney General is necessary will be made whenever clear evidence is 
available of any criminal conduct 

This initial decision did not put the matter at rest, for Colby 

the work of CIA officer 

soon received Contrary, o iore damaging f indings. These were largely 

iwhom Colby had com- 

missioned to produce an inaepenaent study on the qu estion. In reports 

JJbluntly argued 

of 5 September and 11 October 1974,, ,, ^ 

that there were discrepancies between the facts of CIA’s covert involve 
ment in Chile and certain CIA officials’ later testimony. This test 
imony had impeded Congressional proceedings. 

eluded, and therefore, “consultation with Department of Justice 

j con- 

'yhe Washington Post, 17 September 1974. 

September 1974. 

Colby, DCI, Memoraadum for the Record, “ITT/CIA/Chile Matter,’’ 25 September 
1974, CIA Histoiy Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 24, CIA Archives and 
Records Center 



William E. Colby 


approp riate/ 
tion tof 

An angry DP reac- 
findings quickly 

followed, which illustrated the 
sharp contrast between tradition^ 
CIA views and Colbv*s new look 

Having revieweq second 

(and final) repo rt, DP officer 
[wrote that “this 

mongoloid baby should have been 
strangled in its cradle” rather than 
being allowed to grow into “an ir- 
responsible, uncontrolled and un- 
controllable monster that threatens 
the integr ity of th e Clandestine 
Ser vice.” 


Jstudy be filed and 

forgotten because it “has turned 
into a moralistic crusade to expi- 
ate our sins and exorcise the 
Satan from within the CIA corpus 
by sacrificing an as yet unknown 
number of officers.”^ 

In any evenr 

Richard Helms 

11 October 1974 report had not yet caused Colby 

to repudiate his own earlier finding concerning the Helms case. According 

Memorandum for Donald Chamberlain, Inspector General. ‘‘Acenev File 

90BnoV-lfiT h ‘ ^ CIA History Stk rec ords, job 

90B00336R, box 2, folder 24. CIA Archives and Records Center ["n | miflTi i|i|l|iTT| ^ 

study, “Testimony of Mr. William V. Broe Before the Subcommittee on MuItiLronar 
Colorations, Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 27 March 1973,” 11 October 1974 
CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R. box 2, folder 24. CIA Archives and Records 

! l I Directorate of Operations, Memorandum for William Wells, Deputy 

DirecLor lor u^rations, ‘Testimony of Mr. William V. Broe Before the Subcommittee on 
Multinational Corporations, Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 27 March 1973 ” 
15 October 1974. CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 24, CIA Archives 

and R^ords Center rr-jijHii It is noteworthy that a number of CIA critics of 

Colby s handling of theRelms issue have held that he came to be unduly influenced by what 
^ey cons i der to ^lia3^ ecn an overly moralistic bias on t he part p f the “fellow devout 

tainty abiuc nirti’ 

JPforzheimer sh a 

iS later characterized by Ray Cline. 
ichne intervi ew bv ^ rd, 31 March'' 

Jiisdain^ fot j [j -and for Colby’s rcccptiveness to[ 

was more Known for 

pad a “Thomistic cer- 

eCIA vcteraii-\y a!ter 


— r-v-v^ , — anything else. ... It was preposterous that 

^^oioy snould have been swayed by this and been trapped into going over to Jusdee and savins 
Hey, we ve got to do something about this”’ (WalterJBfoizheiraer, interview bvi 
tape record i ng ^ Washington, DC, II January 1988)|'"' 

..... ^ expert on early church a w purri Triiclustory and a regular contribu- 

lor or mgniy technical articles to various scholarly religious journals at home and abroad 
(personal experience, Harold P. Ford). 



Charges Against Richard Helms 


to CIA’s Office of Legislative Counsel, on 21 November Colby told 
Senator McClellan’s Oversight Subcommittee that he had personally gone 
ovk all the materials bearing on the question of Helms’s possible perjury 
and that “there was nothing in our records to support a charge of perjury or 
of deliberate misleading of the Congress.” Colby added that he “wanted to 
make it clear to the Committee that we had no secrets from our 
Committees and we stood ready to go into this or any other matter in the 
fullest detail.”^^ 

Nevertheless, Colby was not at peace with this decision. As he later 
observed,! j findings were “about as welcome on my desk as a 

cobra, anci as hard to handle.” In Colby’s view, if he accepted 
findings, “I repudiated the past; if I accepted the other, I compromised the 
future.” Colby well knew that Helms had loyally protected traditional CIA 
responsibilities. At the same time, Colby realized that “if I took upon my- 
self the decision that the matter should be dropped without further inquiry, 
I would be saying that . . . [our] directives and all my brave words about a 
new era of American intelligence contained the reservation that they would 
not apply if I thought they should not.”^"* 

Colby spent several months, August-December 1974, casting about 
for help in how to handle the Helms issue and how he should strike a 
balance between the competing demands of loyalty to Helms, the legal ob- 
ligations of the case, and the moxd l obligations. In this search, Colby not 
only sought guidance from jand CIA’s Office of General Counsel (as 

we’ve seen above), but also asked the Agency’s Inspector General (IG), 
Donald F. Chamberlain, to assign three officers to examine in detail the 
record of the Helms testimony and report their findings to him. The three 
IG officers, however, were unable to determine from a strictly legal point 
of view whether Colby was or was not obligated to bring the issue to the 
Attorney General for final determination. At this juncture, CIA’s General 
Counsel, John Warner, came up with what he thought might be an escape 
for Colby. Warner noted his understanding that CIA and the Justice 
Department had agreed in 1954 that the Agency, because of the necessary 
secrecy of its operations, could decide alone and on its own whether CIA 
would report possible criminal charges to Justice.^ 

“OLC Memorandum for the Record, “DCI Briefing of the Intelligence Operations 
Subcommittee of Senate Apprc^riations Committee — 21 November 1974,” 27 Noveraba* 1974, 
QA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 24, CIA Archives and Records 

^*Co\byT^norable Men, p. 383. 

According to Colby, that earlier agreement dated from March 1954: **a letter from the 
Acting Director to the Deputy Attorney General which constitutes the so-called agreement.” 
In Colby letter to Terry F. Lenzer, of Truitt, Fabrikat, Buckien and Lenzer, 12 September 1975, 
CIA History Staff records. Job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 24, CIA Archives and Records 
Center (Unclassified). 


William E. Colby 

The three officers the IG had commissioned effectively wiped out 
this route, however, by reporting to Colby that this 1954 agreement be- 
tween CIA and Justice no longer had any validity, if it ever had any. As 
Colby later explained, 

I could see as I talked the matter out with them that if I insisted on my 
“solution” I could expect the matter to leak eventually to the press . . . with 
the implication that CIA in general and I in particular were “covering up.” 

So I took a deep breath and made an appointment to see Acting Attorney 
General Laurence Silberman. 

Colby emphasizes that, by 19 December 1974, the day he fmally took 
the matter to the Justice Department, his earlier certainty that he need not 
report this matter had been undermined by several factors: the judgments 
of certain CIA officers|~ ^at the former DCI had misled 

the Congress, his own doubt that the 1954 CIA-Jusdce “agreements” had 
any validity, and fear that the matter would almost certainly leak in full to 
the press.'''' Former Secretary of State William Rogers, who had been 
Deputy Attorney General in 1954, later stated that he could not remember 
any such agreement between CIA and the Justice Department. Justice 
spokesmen had told him, he added, that they could find no evidence that 
such an agreement had ever existed.^* 

And so Director Colby went to the Justice Department on 
19 December “to have a chat,” as he later reported, with the Acting 
Attorney General. Colby later recalled that even then he had not yet made 
up his own mind whether to turn over the Helms materials to Silberman. 
What he “really hoped to do” was to get a reading from him about the va- 
lidity of the 1954 agreement between Justice and the Agency. According to 
Colby’s account, Silberman’s response was immediate — and sobering. 
“Come on, Bill,” he said. “You’re a lawyer. You know better than that. I 
don’t care what the past arrangements might have been.” Said Silberman, 
“There was no way in the world the CIA was going to be given the extra- 
legal privilege of unilaterally deciding which of its employees should or 
should not be prosecuted. That’s just plain nonsense. ... So, come on 
now, let’s get down to cases. 

Despite these bruising comments from Silberman, Colby did not 
reach a definitive decision about how to proceed on the Helms question 
until a week later. During that interval, while The New York Times was 

^^Colby, Honorable Men, p. 384. 

^^Colby interview by Ford, 9 August 1988. 

^^The New York Times, 25 July 1975. 

"Colby, Honorable Men, p. 385; Colby interview by Ford, 9 August 1988. No memo of the 
Colby-Silberman conversation of 19 December 1974 has been found in CIA files. 


Charges Against Richard Helms 

publishing Hersh’s charges and Colby was busy firing Angleton, Silberman 
and Colby had a series of phone conversations, the highlights of which 
deserve noting in some detail: 

• On 21 December, Silberman told Colby that Hersh had phoned to 
tell him in advance of Colby’s meeting with Silberman on the 19th. 

I am absolutely staggered that he knew that I was going 
to see you. 

The SOB has sources that are absolutely beyond compari- 

He knows more about this place than I do. 

[Hersh] put it to me in terms of Schlesinger and you com- 
ing out on white horses. 

That doesn’t help me a bit. And that is the old 
technique— get a good fight going in town between me 
and Helms, it’s lots of fun. 






• On 23 December, SUbenmn told Colby that, according to Hersh, 
former DCI Schlesinger had told someone at a party that the facts about 
previous CIA misconduct “are much worse than [Hersh’s] article states. ’ 

Silberman: Are you so sure it is so bad to have a Congressienal in- 

Colby: I don’t have any problem with it. I wouldn’t be surprised 

if we end up with it. 

• On 26 December, SUberman told Colby that he had had a conversa- 
tion with Hemy Ruth (Special Prosecutor. 1968-72) and that the two of 
them agreed to examine whether Helms had been involved in any viola- 
tions of law (concerning CIA operations within the USA) dunng the Ume 
Ruth had been Special Prosecutor.’" 

The Helms issue soon merged with Colby’s other Black December 
troubles concerning Angleton and Hersh. when Hersh’s sensational 
22 December The New York Times charges against the CIA raised the ques- 
tion of whether Helms had also been guilty of conducting illegal CIA 

i Istenographic accounts of these Colby-Silbennan telephone conversa- 

lions.ClAHist6 ?y V aff record, job 90B00336R. box 2. folder 24, CIA Arch.ves and 
Records Center. 



William E, Colby 

activities within the United States.^' This development seems to have rein- 
forced Colby’s earlier decision to take his Helms dilemma to the Justice 

This was the situation when, two days after Christmas, Colby made a 
fateful second visit to Silbemian’s office— this time at the latter’s request. 
Here the subject was not CIA, Helms, and Chile, but Helms’s domestic 
CIA misdeeds, and Colby’s own possible criminal culpability in not having 
brought the “family jewels” to Justice’s attention. As Colby later recalled, 
Silberman drew his attention to Hersh’s sensational charges and asked, 
“What else have you [CIA] boys got tucked away up your sleeves? . . . 
What’s this one all about. Bill?” Colby then told Silberman about the 
“family jewels” he had revealed to Congressional oversight and (belatedly, 
as we have seen) to President Ford. “That’s very interesting,” Silberman 
replied. “Tell me, did you turn that list over to the Justice Department?” 
Colby admitted that he had not. Silberman then reminded Colby that as 
DCI he had in his possession evidence of illegal actions and that as a 
public servant he was obliged to turn over such evidence to Justice. “In 
withholding that evidence for a year and a half, Bill, you may have com- 
mitted a crime yourself. 

Shocked, Colby decided to cooperate fully with the Justice 
Department, which instituted proceedings against Helms for perjury. Colby 
has since stoutly defended his action, denying that he thereby turned 
against his friend, benefactor, and former DCI. In Colby’s view, times had 
changed so radically since 1954 that former cozy understandings between 
CIA and Justice now had to collapse, and no one, not even a President, 
could put himself above the law. In the post- Watergate climate (Nixon 
having resigned the Presidency the preceding August), Colby felt that he 
had no right to make sensitive legal decisions on his own or preempt 
rulings by the proper authorities. “Besides,” Colby later stated, somewhat 
strangely, “I was convinced that no fair jury in the land would conclude 
that Helms had committed perjury, and that therefore he would not be 
indicted for it.”” 

’‘The publication of Hersh’s charges sparked immediate questions regarding Helms’s possible 
role in past CIA domestic illegalities. For example, this comment by The Washington Post: 
’“We do not target on American citizens,’ then CIA director Richard Helms said in a public 
speech on April 14, 1971. ... the [domestic] surveillance program apparently was then 
in full swing: if that is in fact the case, then Mr. Helms not only violated the regulation 
governing CIA’s action, but then lied about it as well” (The Washington Post editorial, 
24 December 1974). 

”Colby, Honorable Men^ pp. 395-396. 

^^Ibid., p. 386. In the end, all changes of perjury against Helms were dropped, but, on 
7 November 1977, he was fined $2,000 and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for 
having failed to testify “fully and accurately” to the Senate in 1973 about CIA’s covert oper- 
ations in Chile. Helms’s lawyer termed this conviction a “badge of honor,” and immediately 
thereafter Helms was given a tumultuous welcome by a CIA alumni group, which paid his 



Charges Against Richard Helms 


A sharp contradiction marked this Colby-Helms affair. Colby’s read- 
ing of the changed setting was an accurate one. By contrast, Helms’s 
particular accounting to Congress had been molded by the traditional CIA 
wariness the former DCI had long personified: the less CIA said to 
Congress, the better. Accordingly, responsibility for the legal actions 
against Helms by no means rested wholly with Colby. It was Helms him- 
self who chose to dissimulate before Congress in a situation where he 
could at least have quietly taken the committee chairmen aside — as Colby 
did with Mr. Nedzi concerning Track II — and confided to them the 
dilemma created by President Nixon’s earlier supersecret instructions. 

Moreover, as a result of DCI Schlesinger’s testimony on 13 March 
1973, certain Congressional figures had been aware for some 21 months 
before Colby went to Justice that CIA had indeed taken covert steps to 
spoil Allende’s presidential candidacy. These developments had already 
undermined Helms’s assurances to the Foreign Relations Committee, even 
if the members of Congress were as yet unaware of Track II in Chile or of 
the questionable CIA operations carried on within the United States during 
Helms’s tenure as DCI. It was Colby’s initiative in going to Silberman in 
December 1974, however, that brought the Helms affair out of the 
Congressional deep freeze and into the light of Justice Department — and 
public — scrutiny. Thanks to CIA’s earlier success in getting influential 
Senators to dampen Frank Church’s investigation of CIA and ITT in Chile, 
Helms’s questionable assurances to the Congress had been quietly sat upon. 
The fact of possible peijury on Helms’s part was known to McClellan, 
Jackson, and other friendly Senators, but Congress took no action on this 
issue until almost two years later when, coincident with sharply rising 
uneasiness about CIA, Colby brought the Helms issue to the Justice 
Department’s attention. 

This issue brought grief to both Helms and Colby. Colby’s reporting 
of the matter to Justice helped damage Helms’s reputation and provoked a 
lasting personal animosity between the two. Helms later stated that he had 
“always wondered” why Colby had gone to Justice and that it would have 
been better had Colby “gone first to the President, his boss, and said 
‘Mr. President, I am going to turn over this material on one of my 
predecessors and I just want you to know it is being turned over to the 
Attorney General.’”^** Rather, Colby’s action in unilaterally going to Justice 
sharply broke the perjury issue out of its hold position in Congress, 
contributed to Helms’s later indictment, and seemed to confirm Hersh’s 
charges that Helms had been chiefly responsible for CIA’s domestic 

Colby, too, was a loser. His handling of the affair gained him the last- 
ing resentment of a number of CIA officers fervently loyal to Helms — at 
the very time he was also being rebuked for the manner in which he had 

^ Richard Helms, to journalist David Frost, as reprinted in “An Interview with Richard 
Helms,” Studies in Intelligence 25 (fall 1981): p. 18 (Unclassified). 

William E. Colby 

dumped James Angleton. In examining the record after the passing of 
years, one can understand why a former CIA General Counsel holds th^ 
“the bottom line was Helms lied, based on what we have examined. 
Also in hindsight, one may question why Colby and his colleagues clung 
so long to legal technicalities in seeking to avoid a showdown on the issue. 
The answer seems to be: (1) that Colby understandably hesitated to injure 
his friend and benefactor, Dick Helms; (2) that Colby, too, for all his wish 
to open up CIA, was a product of traditional tendencies to evade embar- 
rassing questions; and (3) that until fairly late in his search for a solution to 
his dilemma, lawyer Colby characteristically preferred legal interpretations 
to broader considerations and moral obligations. 

In any event, Colby was now surrounded by a sea of troubles as 
Black December drew to a close. Ironically, this skilled manager had han- 
dled December’s many fast-breaking crises in such a way that he not only 
damaged his own standing within CIA, but also appeared to confirm 
Seymour Hersh’s allegations of Agency misconduct, exposed CIA to de- 
bilitating investigations, severely embarrassed the President of the United 
States, and grievously harmed his own position with the White House. In 
all, he had set back his own cherished goal of giving US intelligence a 
reformed image and had hastened his own fall from office. 

^^This General Counsel asked not to be named. Interview byj recording, 

Washington, DC, 9 October 1987 This same former' ueueiai ^^uuirsbl has told the 

author that he considers that Colby had no alternative but to proceed as he did with respect 
both to the Congress and the Justice Department. Interview by Harold P. Ford, summary 
notes, Washington, DC, 21 October 1988JS§fi5rt^ 

Part III 

Confrontation and Exit, 1975-1976 

It will be a long year. 

John Blake 
13 February 1975‘ 

Following the momentous month of December 1974, Colby lasted a 
year as DCI before President Ford finally relieved him of duty on 
30 January 1976. These were very difficult months for Colby, a period he 
describes in his memoirs as “Survival.” In addition to having to contend 
with difficult intelligence and policymaking problems around the world, 
including the precipitous collapse of South Vietnam, DCI Colby became 
the target of censure from all sides. 

Criticisms hit him from both the political left and the political right. 
On the left, he was damned for having headed the “notorious” PHOENIX 
program in Vietnam and for now heading a CIA that was in disrepute, even 
though the Agency’s questionable domestic operations had taken place be- 
fore Colby’s tenure as DCI and even though Colby had himself been in- 
strumental in ending most of those programs some months before Hersh’s 
allegations. On the right, Colby was criticized by arch traditionalists, who 
felt that he was going much too far in leveling with Congress and the 
Department of Justice — at the expense of such “patriots” as Helms and 
Angleton. In response, Colby demonstrated considerable steadfastness 
during these closing months of his DCI stewardship. Hit by flak from all 
sides, deserted by the White House, and caught between Congress’s right 

'John Blake, Deputy Director for Administration, Outline Notes, “One Man’s Way of 
Describing the ‘Current Situation,’” 13 February 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Center (Adpinistfiatwg* 

-fir piBilt 


William E. Colby 

to know and the White House’s preference that Congress not know, Colby 
soldiered on for this 13 -month period, convinced that his efforts to bring 
about a more open CIA were not only just but would eventually bear fruit 
This period of Sturm und' Drang — between Colby’s Black December 
and his exit in January 1976 — entailed four principal sets of challenges for 
Colby and the Central Intelligence Agency: President Ford’s Rockefeller 
Commission, the mildest of Colby’s investigative ordeals; the Senate’s 
Church committee, the most far reaching of the investigations, the House’s 
Pike committee, the most raucous yet best targeted of the various probes; 
and, simultaneously, a platterful of demanding intelligence problems of all 

Chapter 9 

The Rockefeller Commission 

Had Seymour Hersh not written his CIA domestic surveillance stories for 
The New York Times in December 1974 (indeed, had not The Times seen fit 
to splash the first story across five columns of page one headlined “Massive 
Surveillance’’), there seems little doubt that there never would have been a . 
Rockefeller Commission, a Pike ‘‘Report,” a Church committee, or an 
Executive Order 11905. . . . Hersh, and Hersh alone, caused the President, 
and then Congress ... to make intelligence a major issue of 1975. 

Rockefeller Commission Staffer 
Timothy S. Hardy 
1976" . 

On 4 January 1975, President Ford established the Rockefeller 
Commission to investigate CIA’s activities within the United States. It was, 
by coincidence, Colby’s 55th birthday. 

Even before the White House received Colby’s response to The New 
York Times allegations, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other 
administration figures had begun urging the President to appoint a citizens’ 
commission to investigate Hersh’s charges.^ As The Washington Post ex- 
pressed it, citing “Administration sources,” the Kissinger proposal sought 
to establish a forum that would stem public controversy and provide for a 
review of CIA activities in a “rational, unemotional and careful manner.”'* 

In publicly fashioning a commission, Ford stressed that it was to 
ascertain and evaluate any facts relating to CIA activities within the United 
States that “give rise to questions of compliance with the provisions of 
50 U.S.C. 403 [the National Security Act of 1947 as amended, CIA’s 
founding authorization].” The President directed the Rockefeller 
Commission to determine whether existing safeguards were adequate to 

Timothy Hardy, "IntelUgence Reform in the Mid-1970s,” Studies in Intelligence 20 (sum- 
iner 1976): I (Unclassified) (In fact, The Times four-column headline did not use the words 
“massive surveillance.” See appendix C.) 

As discussed in chapter 7, Colby reported on 24 December 1974 to President Ford who was 
vacationing in Vail, Colorado. 

*The Washington Post, 28 December 1974. 


William E. Colby 

prevent any CIA activities that might violate the provisions of that act, as 
well as to make such recommendations to him and to the Director of 
Central Intelligence as it might deem appropriate. The President also 
directed the Commission to give the Attorney General any evidence it 
found relating to criminal offenses under the statutes of the United States 
and to present its final report within three months — that is, by 3 April 

The next day, 5 January, President Ford announced the Commission’s 
membership. The panel was to be made up of eight distinguished citizens 
from various walks of life: Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Chairman; 
former Secretary of the Treasury, C. Douglas Dillon; former Chairman 
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer; former 
US Solicitor-General, Erwin Griswold; Secretary and Treasurer of the 
AFL-CIO, Lane Kirkland; Chief Executive Officer of Allied Chemical 
Corporation and former Secretary of Commerce, John T. Connor; former 
President of the University of Virginia, Edgar F. Shannon, Jr.; and former 
Governor of California, Ronald W. Reagan. 

Many in the press viewed the formation of this Commission with 
skepticism. They charged that its makeup was too “safe,” its membership 
did not include any Congressional figures, and the whole enterprise was a 
sham, meant to cover up CIA’s iniquities.*^ Numerous Congressional leaders 
also insisted that the Presidential Rockefeller Commission would in no 
way obviate the need for parallel investigations of CIA by Congressional 
bodies. At the outset there was some interest in a joint body in the 
Congress, but this interest rapidly vanished in the face of individual com- 
mittees’ assertiveness. 

Clearly, the Rockefeller Commission was the White House’s response 
to a perceived crisis situation. As the President’s Counselor, John Marsh, 
remarked, the situation was “grim.”^ Because Colby had given the White 
House no warning, Hersh’s charges had come as a bombshell. At the same 
time, the general public seemed willing to think the worst of the CIA. The 
Justice Department was now looking into possible criminal aspects of both 
the m/Chile matter and CIA’s domestic activities. Further, these inquiries 
lent credence to earlier charges of Agency involvement in Watergate— a 
topic the new President clearly did not wish to reopen. 

^Executive Order 11905, 4 January 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, 
CIA Archives and Records Center, 

^The Washington Star (8 January 1975), for example, held that Governor Reagan had been 
added to the Commission because of “the extra advantage of putting him on the administra- 
tion’s side, at a time when the crazies want him to be an insurgent against Ford.” 

John Marsh, as cited in George Cary, Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, 
“Meeting with John O. Marsh, Counselor to the President, Re the Commission on CIA 
Activities Within the U.S.,” 6 January 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 
2, folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Center f^rrrrt p,yri QwlfT 


The Rockefeller Commission 

The appointment of the 
Rockefeller Commission created 
major problems for Colby. Instead 
of concentrating his energies on 
the many issues facing US intelli- 
gence, he found himself spending 
a substantial part of his time, as he 
phrased it, “bouncing around with 
problems like Watergate, the Chile 
expose, the Marchetti thing [ex- 
CIA officer Victor Marchetti’s 
book, which the CIA tried 
to censor] — and now this 
[the Rockefeller investigation].” 

With exaggerated accusations 
against CIA as well as disgruntled 
and publicity-seeking former em- 
ployees gaining increasing public 
attention, the forthcoming in- 
vestigations were certain to cloud 

Colby’s aim to give the American public a more accurate understanding of 
what he considered to be the true nature and purpose of US intelligence. 

The most immediate problem Colby had to solve was how he and 
CIA should go about sharing sensitive information with the Rockefeller 
and the subsequent Congressional investigations.’ Colby quickly set up 
mechanisms to deal with this. He appointed E. H. “Hank” Knoche as 
special assistant to the DCI, and made him responsible for coordinating all 
Apncy responses to the investigating groups. An Associate Deputy 
Directors (ADD) group, headed by CIA Inspector General Donald 
Chamberlain, was to act as a senior review panel for all Agency materials 
destined for outside transmittal. Colby also appointed John Clarke, 
Associate Deputy to the DCI for the Intelligence Community, chairman of 
an ad hoc USIB group that, supported by the Intelligence Community 
Staff, had the job of overseeing the coordination of Community and CIA 
responses to questions and issues arising from the Rockefeller and 
Congressional investigations.” In establishing these procedures, Colby 

Nelson Rockefeller 

William Colby, DCI, interview in Newsweek, 20 January 1975, 

an especially touchy task in the House of Representatives because of that 

(hose it. K “““ transcript of any committee bearing, including 

Executive session, to all members of the House. ® 

D 1. Da. Memorandum for senior-level managers, “Organizing for External 

CU T^’h- ^T15, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2. folder 29 

CIA Archives and Records Center 

William E. Colby 


characteristically provided for very specific routing and review arrange- 
ments, though many of these carefully crafted processes later fell by the 
wayside in the heat of actual practice. 

Colby and his DDO, William Nelson, appreciated from the outset that 
particular care would have to be given to protecting CIA s Clandestine 
Services. They agreed that no DO personnel would be identified to the 
investigative bodies without the knowledge of the individuals concerned. 
In addition, Colby directed the CIA’s General Counsel to employ a lawyer 
experienced in criminal and civil practice who could counsel any employee 
faced with questions of criminal liability. Colby and Nelson, mindful of the 
impact of the coming investigations upon liaison contacts abroad, sent the 
field an immediate book cable instructing all appropriate CIA stations to 
ensure their respective liaison services that CIA intended to protect not 
only information from, but also the fact of, liaison relationships. 

As Colby and Nelson had feared, friendly services abroad immedi- 
ately became nervous that the upcoming US investigations would reveal 
their relationships with CIA. Within days after President Ford had formed 
the Rockefeller Commission, officers from various liaison services were 
reporting that suspicions of the Agency had grown. Hostile questions had 
been voiced in their parliaments, and one foreign ministry had issued a 
directive forbidding any contact with known CIA officers, while another 
had decided to limit Americans’ physical presence at sites of joint intelli- 
gence operations.*^ Although such uneasiness occurred throughout the 
Rockefeller as well as the Church and Pike investigations, evident in con- 
tinuing concern on the part of agents and liaison services and in some loss 
of operational effectiveness, such uneasiness in the end did no crushing 
damage to CIA’s clandestine collection capabilities. 

The question of access to sensitive materials remained a central one 
for CIA’s Directorate of Operations. As DO officer Donald Gregg (who 
served in a liaison capacity with the House’s Pike committee), later 

DDO personnel suffered the trauma of having total strangers from 
Congressional staffs ask for some of the Directorate's innermost secrets with 
the full expectation of receiving comprehensive replies. This experience ran 

"William Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, Memorandum for DO Division and Staff 
Chiefs, “Follow-up on Items Raised at the 22 January 1975 DDO Staff Meeting,” 23 January 
1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, CIA Archives and 
Records Ccnter4S»uat JliiiPii'BniyT. — 

I Chief, DO Operations Staff, Memorandum for William Nelson, 

^puty Direc t o r lu r upeiaiiu i i k, “Liaison Service and Agent Reactions to Recent Publicity 
on the CIA,” 11 February 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, 
CIA Archives and Records Center OPS/OSG, Memorandum for 

Chief, DO Operations Staff, “Additional Liaisbn aervice-ainrAgent Reactions to Publicity on 
the Agency,” 25 February 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, 
CLA Archives and Records Center (Segjiefi^ 



The Rockefeller Commission 

counter to all that had been ingrained in Directorate personnel throughout 
their careers. . . . The years 1975 and 1976 thus formed the most difficult 
period for the Directorate as a kind of ex post facto morality was applied to 
past operations.'^ 

Colby found it particularly difficult to decide how forthcoming he 
should be in making available sensitive data concerning Richard Helms. In 
CIA’s initial negotiations with the Rockefeller panel, its staff chief, David 
Belin, complained that the materials Colby had initially provided it, includ- 
ing the Vail report, were inadequate. Belin insisted that the Commission’s 
staff be able to see any CIA file and any Agency officer they wished, 
without having to obtain CIA approvaL’^ In practice, however, Colby sharp- 
ly limited the documents available to Belin, whether concerning Helms or 
any other question. Under Colby’s orders. Commission staffers had to 
study most of the Agency documents they requested at Agency 
Headquarters. Other materials were shipped to the panel’s office, while still 
others were held by CIA’s Inspector General, who then orally briefed the 
Commission’s investigators. Certain particularly sensitive materials were 
withheld entirely on security grounds.'^ 

In working out these procedures, Colby was caught between his 
statutory obligation to protect intelligence sources and methods and his 
long-held desire to create a more open CIA. His dilemma was complicated 
by several inherited situations. Of these, perhaps the most significant was 
that the law assigning the DCI responsibility for protecting sources and 
methods was vaguely worded and mute on authority. The language of 
CIA’s enabling legislation was not precise, and over the years different 
DCIs had interpreted these injunctions differently. Colby struck a balance 
by strictly protecting sources and methods but at the same time making 
materials available when he felt that the requesting officer had a legitimate 
need to know. Even this degree of openness proved too much for Chairman 
Rockefeller’s tastes. Early in the Commission’s career, the Vice President 
drew Colby aside and said, “Bill do you really have to present all this 
material to us?” Colby recalls that he “quite unmistakably” got the mes- 
sage and did not like it: “The Vice President of the United States was let- 
ting me know that he didn’t approve of my approach to CIA’s troubles, that 
he would much prefer me to take the traditional stance of fending off in- 
vestigators by drawing the cloak of secrecy around the Agency in the name 
of national security.”'^ 

^Donald Gregg, “Congress and the Directorate of Operations — An Odd Couple?,’* Studies in 
Intelligence 23 (spring 1979): pp. 31-32 (Unclassified). Donald Gregg later became a White 
House special assistant to Vice President Bush, and still later US Ambassador t o Seoul. 

— uonaio K Utiamoeriain, inspector oenerai, Memorandum lor tne Kecord, "Access by ttie 
Staff of the Rockefeller Commission to the ‘Helms’ Files,” 13 August 1975, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Centcr^^fSgc^sCf 
’*CoIby, Honorable Men, p. 400. 


William E, Colby 


An additional problem for Colby was deciding what guidance to give 
CIA employees who might be approached by the Rockefeller Commission. 
In a nodce to all employees of 28 February 1975, Colby informed them 
that they were free to disclose any potentially illegal domestic activities 
carried out by the Agency; or they could, if they wished, adhere to their 
right to remain silent under questioning. If they wished to report any 
domestic CIA actions of uncertain legality, they could contact the Director 
or the IG, or they could report directly to the Rockefeller Commission. 

More significant than procedural problems, however, were several 
sharp embarrassments affecting the Rockefeller group’s work — and public 
perceptions of CIA — which occurred outside the Commission’s arena. The 
first of these was Colby’s 15 January 1975 testimony before a closed 
session of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on intelli- 
gence. After Colby gave that group the same information he had included 
in his Vail report of 24 December 1974, the members pressed him to 
approve the release of his testimony to provide a necessary public response 
to Seymour Hersh’s charges. Colby readily agreed. In fact, as he later 
recalled, he was “delighted” to do so: “Ever since I had prepared the Vail 
report I had been hoping to get it out — ^believing it the most effective way 
to counter the misconceptions fostered by Hersh’s article.”'^ The impact of 
this release, however, was not what Colby had anticipated. Instead, 
Newsweek, Time, and The New York Times all depicted Colby’s testimony 
as confirming the charges of massive CIA misconduct. Colby was 
astonished by these reactions. What he had thought would “quiet the storm 
whirling around the Agency” instead prompted many journalists “to 
believe that what I had revealed about the CIA’s past misdeeds was just the 
tip of the iceberg.”’® Colby’s reaction seems naive, the product of his 
characteristic certainty that the truth as he saw it would be the truth that 
others perceived. To the contrary, as had been the case with his Vail report 
to the President, Colby’s testimony clearly gave substance to Hersh’s 
allegations. And, if this were not enough, once again he had forgotten to 
give the White House advance notice that possibly embarrassing news 
concerning the Agency was about to hit the front page. 

Nor was this all. Inasmuch as Colby’s testimony clearly implicated 
Richard Helms in CIA’s illegal domestic activities, the entire operations of 
Helms’s CIA now came into public question. The next day, Helms himself 
contributed further to the furor with his own testimony to Senator S tennis’s 
intelligence oversight subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, 
There, Helms admitted that CIA had indeed conducted clandestine opera- 
tions within the United States, in particular monitoring certain activities by 

p. 402. Indicative of Congress’s sharply rising concern with CIA, and of the burden 
this placed on Colby during the early part of 1975, is the fact that by 26 June, prior to his 
appearances before the Church and Pike investigative bodies, he had testified some 35 times 
to various officials on Capitoi Hill since the start of the year. 




The Rockefeller Commission 

American radicals and dissidents, to the degree that such conduct was 
inspired by, funded by, or coordinated with, “anti- American subversion 
mechanisms abroad.” Not surprisingly, media reaction to Helms’s admis- 
sions was uniformly hostile.’^ 

Worst of all. President Ford aggravated Colby’s woes by unintention- . 
ally opening up the issue of CIA assassinations. This slip occurred on 
16 January, at a small elite gathering of journalists he had invited to a 
White House luncheon. There, Ford is reported to have confided to his 
guests — who included the publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Ochs 
Sulzberger, and some of that newspaper’s principal editors — that there had 
been far more sensitive CIA activities than those Hersh had reported. 
“Like what?” he was asked, “Like assassination,” he replied. Although 
the President’s remarks were off the record, they quickly leaked to Daniel 
Schorr of CBS."" 

Now it was the White House that did not alert Colby. The DCI was 
unaware of this landmine until Schorr told him, in the course of a 
27 February background interview, about the President’s remarks. Colby 
thereupon compounded the error. As he later recalled, he was so stunned 
that he retreated to the traditional Agency practice of answering only 
the specific question asked — in this case, about assassination: “‘Not in this 
country,’ I replied to Schorr.” Interpreting this ambiguous reply as 
indicating that assassination operations had been carried out elsewhere, 
Schorr broadcast the next night, on 28 February 1975, that “President Ford 
has reportedly warned associates that, if current investigations go too far, 
they could uncover several assassinations of foreign officials involving the 
CIA.” The result, in Colby’s view, was that “there was no stopping the 
press or Congress now,” Indeed, as he later phrased it, “a hysteria seized 
Washington; sensation came to rule the day.”"‘ 

By this time, the chances had become virtually nil that Colby could 
materially advance his goal of gaining greater public respect for CIA. 
Hersh’s allegations had been fanned by embarrassing revelations from 
former DCI Helms, President Ford, and Colby himself. The DCI in particu- 
lar had hurt his own cause by the way he had handled — or mishandled — ^his 
relations with a wide array of actors: Hersh, Angleton, Helms, Silberman 
of the Justice Department, Congress, and the President The public could 
now see that the Director of Central Intelligence was out of step with the 
President and isolated from the White House. Colby had not only seemed 
to confirm charges that CIA had conducted illegal operations within the 
United States, but also charges that CIA operators had been involved with 

’’See, for example, the 17 January 1975 editions of The New York Times and The Washington 

^“Colby, Honorable Men^ p. 409. See also Clifton Daniel in The New York Times, 16 June 

^‘Coiby, Honorable Men, p. 410. 



William E, Colby 

assassination. Furthermore, Colby’s and Helms’s testimonies about covert 
operations in Chile did not jibe. In the meantime, Helms had perhaps 
peijured himself in sworn testimony to the Congress in 1973 and, in any 
event, was stigmatized for having led the Agency when CIA was carrying 
out those domestic operations forbidden in its charter. 

The Agency’s possible complicity in assassination became one of the 
chief questions dogging the Rockefeller Commission’s work. To inves- 
tigate charges concerning the Agency’s past domestic operations lay 
outside the Commission’s charter. But, once Congress and the country 
learned that the President himself had linked CIA and assassination, pres- 
sure to include this issue in the RockefeUer Commission’s inquiries grew 
rapidly. The panel did eventually look into this subject, and this added 
burden caused it to ask for, and to receive, two additional months in which 
to finish its report. In the end, however, the Commission did not cover the 
assassination question in its report but passed this hot potato on to the 
President and, subsequently, to the Senate’s Church committee. 

The Rockefeller Commission’s Findings 

After weeks of study, the \Tce President on 2 June announced that his 
panel had found that CIA had broken the law but had not been guilty of 
large-scale illegal activity. Asked by a reporter if he was implying that 
there had been no “massive” illegal domestic spying by the CIA, as 
originally charged by Hersh, Rockefeller replied, “That would be a fair 
interpretation to draw from what I said, but that doesn’t mean that there 
haven’t been things done that were wrong and we recommend extensive 
steps to be taken to prevent it in the future.” Rockefeller added that the 
Commission was “nearly unanimous” in its conclusions and that CIA had 
played no role in censoring the panel’s final report — ^in fact, the Agency 
would not see a copy of the Commission’s report until it was made 

Subsequently, at a 9 June news conference, the President congratu- 
lated the Commission for having done a thorough, fair, frank, and balanced 
job. He added that, because the panel’s investigation of the assassination 
allegations was incomplete and involved “extremely sensitive matters,” he 
had decided that it was not in the national interest to make public any of 
the panel’s data on this subject. Instead, he would give that information to 
the Department of Justice and to the Senate and House investigative 

The next day. President Ford released the Commission’s report. As 
the Vice President had already indicated, the Rockefeller panel was “con- 
vinced” that, in the great majority of its domestic activities, the CIA had 

”UPI release, 2 June 1975. 

~^The New York Tunes^ 10 June 1975. 


The Rockefeller Commission 

complied with its statutory authority. The Commission nonetheless found 
that, over its 28-year lifespan, the CIA had engaged in some activities that 
should not be permitted to happen again. Some of these activities had been 
initiated or ordered by Presidents. Others had fallen between delegated 
responsibilities and specifically prohibited activities. Still others were 
“plainly unlawful” and constituted invasions of Americans’ rights. 
Overall, however, the Commission concluded that the Agency’s own 
remedial actions of 1973 and 1974 had “gone far to terminate the activities 
upon which the Commission’s investigation has focused.” As for 
Watergate, the Commission found that the CIA had neither participated in 
nor known in advance of the Watergate break-in or the burglary of the 
office of Dr. Fielding, Daniel Eilsberg’s psychiatrist. Although the Agency 
had provided certain materials to Watergate-related White House figures, it 
had done so without knowledge that the President’s staff was engaged in 
illegal activities. 

Criticizing CIA for not resisting these White House pressures more 
forcefully, the Commission recommended that in the future CIA should 
resist any Presidential directives to perform essentially internal security 
tasks and that Presidents should refrain from issuing any such orders. 
Furthermore, the Commission advised the Agency to guard against allow- 
ing any of its components to become so self-contained and isolated from 
top leadership that regular supervision and review are lost.^'^ 

The Commission’s report was especially critical of CIA’s earlier 
domestic operation, project CHAOS — and of Richard Helms, who had 
been DCI when CHAOS was undertaken. The report charged that CHAOS 
had been run without any checks from CIA’s General Counsel or Inspector 
General or any annual review and approval procedures. The Agency, 
according to the report, had intentionally not informed the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) of the operation. The panel also faulted 
Helms for having sent a memorandum to all CIA Deputy Directors, in 
September 1969, assuring them that CHAOS was within the Agency’s 
statutory authority. Helms was also criticized for having issued another 
memorandum within CIA, in December 1972, asserting that operation 
CHAOS was “a legitimate counterintelligence function of the Agency and 
cannot be stopped simply because some members of the organization do 
not like this activity.”^ 

The Commission’s findings evoked a mixed but nonetheless gener- 
ally supportive reaction. Editorials in the Wall Street Journal, The 
Washington Post, and The New York Times all concluded that the 

^Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, Report to the President, 6 June 1975 
(hereafter cited as Rockefeller Commission Report), chapter 3, “Summary of Findings, 
Conclusions, and Recommendations,” pp. 9-42. 

""ibid., pp. 145-147, 


William E. Colby 

Commission’s report was responsible and candid and that earlier charges of 
CIA illegalities had been overstated. Seymour Hersh, however, was not 
persuaded. ‘‘The Rockefeller report,” he charged, “did not state . . . that 
the agency’s internal reforms of the past two years came only after it was 
embarrassed by public exposure of its role in support of the White House 
plumbers and the Watergate coverap.”^*^ This charge was manifestly unfair. 
As the Rockefeller Commission pointed out, the CIA had not been in- 
volved in Watergate, Hersh also failed to give DCIs Schlesinger and Colby 
credit for the housecleaning they had done on their own — well before his 
“public exposure” of CIA’s activities. 

Overall, any concerns that the Commission’s report would be a 
coverup did not materialize, thanks largely to that group’s professionalism 
and candor, as well as to William Colby’s readiness to cooperate. Former 
DCI John McCone added his own nudge to creating a credible report, 
telling Rockefeller early on that the Commission was getting the reputation 
of being a “whitewash committee; this is a star-studded committee that is 
going to whitewash CIA. You’d better bore in.”^ 

In the final analysis, the Commission served several White House 
interests. Its work helped contain the infection let loose by Hersh’s charges 
and by Colby’s failure to alert Ford. The Commission proved of sufficient 
stature to ensure both a credible report and a reasonably positive accep- 
tance. It had supported US intelligence but without the White House 
having to stand too close to the CIA or to Colby. Not least, the 
Commission also served the White House’s political interests. As 
Commission staffer Timothy Hardy later observed: 

Politics . . . framed the issue for the President; the issue had become less 
one of what restrictions should be imposed and more one of whether any 
Executive actions were necessary to prevent more drastic, less appealing 
Congressionally imposed restrictions. There was at the time only a small 
constituency within the Executive Branch for unilaterally limiting its own 
activities. Unless forced to action, the Executive Branch was loath to act."* 

At the same time, the Commission’s findings directly affected a num- 
ber of CIA interests. From the outset, Colby and the Agency wanted to 
ensure that the Rockefeller inquhy would be kept contained. They wanted 
no precedent set for a wholesale admission of outsiders into the Agency’s 
sensitive files, and no hemorrhaging of secrets that would scare off the 
continued cooperation of agents and liaison offices abroad. Such horrors 
did not occur. 

“TTzc New York Times, 15 JuneI975. 

“John McCone's account of stateme nts he had made to Yice R esident Rockefeller, as he 
later related to then DCI Colby ^ ~ ~ | stenographic account of 

Colby-McCone telephone conversation, ZU January 1975, CIA History Staff records job 
90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Center, 

“Hardy, Studies in Intelligence 20: p. 6. 

The Rockefeller Commission 

In addition, the RockefeUer investigation strengthened Colby’s beUef 
that questionable CIA operations should never again be allowed to occur 
After testifymg to the Commission, John McCone told Colby “The only 
which I codd no. be very responsive. w„ die i 

SrS; n , Colb^S 

tell CIAs Deputies that it had come as “a great shock’’ to him to learn toat 
a previous Director” had purposely been cut out of knowledge of certain 
CIA activities. Such conduct was “intolerable,” said Colby, bemuse it cast 
^ave doubts on the integrity and discipline of the Agency. Conseq 
Drise^^^* establishing an Agency management doctrine of “no sur- 

when the Commission commended the remedial 
steps he and Schlesinger had taken long before Seymour Hersh leveled his 
charges against the CIA. As Rockefeller staffer Hardy later remSed 

"Ot be taken as a criticism of the Rockefeller Commission to state 
t It served pnmanly as a blue-ribbon panel to edit and publish the CIA 

beLn first as a coCemary 

a tribite to ?L a government, and sewndly as 

an aKTf ^ tnbute, not just because the Agency demonstrated 

had bein^aiil°^ni^ Government bureaucracy to leam whal 

n and still was going on throughout its organization but also because 

befoirw^blS^^ ‘’y 

Followups to the RockefeUer Commission’s Report 

released the panel’s report 
S?ock?.T Department that he wa^ handing ove^ 

cutiOT Commission’s documents as a basis for possible prose- ”^®®orandum addressed to Attorney General Edward Leri, the 
President stated that the data would include “relevant materials” on 

al°sTfrom^ihe^f^'^ alleged assassination plots, not only from the CIA but 
also from the files of the National Security Council the Defense 
Department, and the State Department^^ 

the lieutenants. 

DCI thi n ? a wide range of foUowup tasks on the 

DCI. the Director of the FBI. and the Attorney General, as well as the 

I stenographic account of CoIby-McCone telephone conversation 
and RecoPds CenteT ‘ 1°'’ 9°B00336R. box 2. folder 29, CIA Archives' 

CU^HiL™ managers, “No Surprises.” 16 April 1975 

SiiSiSSSiSSf®’ CIA^rchives ani^tiorfs' 

uPl release, 12 June 1975. 


William E. Colby 

Director of OMB and the Assistant to the President for National Security 
Affairs.^^ These directives called for clarifying responsibilities, jurisdic- 
tions, and lines of authority in the field of US foreign and domestic 
intelligence — in particular establishing guidelines to prevent future illegali- 
ties and to handle criminal violations. These directives also restrained 
Presidents from ordering the CIA to perform essentially internal security 
tasks and required CIA to resist any attempts, whatever their origin, to 
involve it in improper activities. Wth an eye to past abuses, the President 
directed CIA to guard against allowing any of its components to become so 
isolated from top leadership that regular supervision and review are lost. 
Most important, the President forbade any US agency from involvement in 
assassination attempts. 

Colby devoted much of his remaining time in office to carrying out 
these Presidential directives and the Rockefeller Commission’s recommen- 
dations. He ordered the Agency’s Office of General Counsel to broaden its 
role by reviewing ongoing projects and program budgets, in addition to 
participating in monthly Comptroller meetings with the Deputy Directors. 
Colby directed OGC to review all new projects and activities, unless their 
legality had already been clearly established, and to review all CIA regula- 
tory issuances to ensure that they conformed to existing legislation and 
authority. Indicating OGC’s expanding role, Colby almost doubled its 
size, and asked the General Counsel to continue 

recruiting attorneys from both inside and outside the CIA.^^ In addition, 
Colby ordered the Agency’s Office of Inspector General to serve as a focal 
point within CIA for investigating reports of improper activities. Such in- 
spections were to be conducted quickly and presented, concisely. In inves- 
tigating improprieties, the IG was to have complete access to all relevant 
information within the CIA, subject only to specific written exemptions 

^^Rockefeller staffers Hardy and Mason Cargill told CIA’s Hank Knoche that the Agency’s 
response to the President’s request for comments on the Comr ^iissi o n ’s RcDQrt _w.a s _ “the best 
one received in its clarity and its avoidance of . parochialism” [~ ~ ~ 

~T^residential Memorandum tor the Attorney General; the Assistant to the President for 
National Security Affairs; the Director, Office of Management and Budget; and the Director 
of Central Intelligence, untitled, 16 August 1975. CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, 
box 2, folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 

^*John Warner, General Counsel, Memorandum for William Colby, Director of Central 
Intelligence, “The Office of General Counsel,” 25 September 1975, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified); 
William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for John Warner, General Counsel, “Review of the Office 
of General Counsel,” 3 November 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 2, 
folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 


The Rockefeller Commission 

from the DCI. Reflecting the IG’s new prominence, Colby directed that its 
officers should be drawn widely from within CIA, and their grade levels 
raised substantially.^^ 

The most notable aspect of the Rockefeller episode is that the 
Commission’s recommendations (later translated into Presidential direc- 
tives) not only went to the heart of many of the Agency’s weaknesses, but 
also specifically anticipated many of the findings that the Church and Pike 
committees later claimed had been products of Congressional discovery 
and imagination. Overall, however, the Commission’s labors did not win 
the degree of respect they merited. In part, this was because many, in 
Congress and among the public, remained suspicious that the panel’s main 
purpose all along had been to put the best face on CIA and sweep the 
“massive misconduct” allegations under the rug. Further, the Rockefeller 
group had conducted its work quietly and professionally, out of the glare of 
publicity, in contrast to the Church and Pike committees’ emphases 
on spectacle and high-impact TV. Most important, new revelations 
arose during the course of the Commission’s inquiries that alleged CfA 
complicity in additional illegalities — assassination, experimentation with 
toxins, and the use of LSD on unwitting personnel — which many observers 
considered even more reprehensible than the Hersh charges that had 
sparked the Rockefeller inquiry in the first place. 

For Colby, it was clearly the assassination issue that spoiled much of 
the good the Rockefeller Commission had done. Initially, he had believed 
that he and the CIA could profit from a supportive report from such a 
distinguished panel: “I think it might have worked except for the 
President’s mention of assassinations,” he later remarked. “That blew the 
roof off.”^^ Colby nonetheless weathered the Commission’s investigation 
relatively well. That would not be his experience with the Church and Pike 
committees. It was Colby’s handling of these Congressional investigations 
that drove White House patience to the limit and led President Ford to look 
for a new DCI — one less politically embarrassing to the White House. 

Donald F. Chamberlain, Inspector General, Memorandum for William Colby, DCI, “Future 
Program and Organization of the Inspection Staff,” 14 July 1975, CIA History Staff records, 
job 90B00336R, box 2, folder 29, CIA Archives and Records Center ( Ad miTih ^ 

iiiBi UUij;. 

Colby interview by 

15 March 1988. On file in the CIA History Staff. 


Chapter 10 

The Church Committee 

When the committee report is made public in the next few weeks, the senator 
[Frank Church] continued, “The people will recognize that the CIA was be- 
having like a rogue elephant rampaging out of control, and Congress was not 

The Baltimore Sun, 16 July 1975 

We must avoid becoming a rogue committee. 

Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr., 8 November 1975' 

Badly wounded by December’s crises, already under scrutiny by the 
Rockefeller Commission, and more out of favor than ever at the White 
House, Colby now faced what was to be the most searching investigation 
of all, that of the Senate’s Church committee.^ This proved to be the event 
of most consequence for Colby for this experience, more than anything else 
of his last year as DCI frustrated his efforts to gain greater respect for CIA, 
and helped set in train his demise as DCI. 

As we have seen, Congress had now — after years of looking the other 
way — ^busily set about making CIA more accountable. The lack of effective 
legislative oversight of US intelligence had largely been the fault of the 
Congress itself. Over the years, more than 200 oversight bills and resolu- 
tions had been introduced; all but two had died in committee, and those 
two had been soundly defeated.^ Times had now changed, however, for 

‘Quoted in Loch K. Johnson, A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation (Lex- 
ington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1985), p. 109. (Johnson was a Church committee 

^The formal title for this body, chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) was the Senate Select 
Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, 

An important cause for this record was of course the desire of senior Congressional figures 
to hang on to their own personal oversight prerogatives. Moreover, in former DCI Richard 
Helms’s view, the Church committee “would never have got started if at the time there had 
been a strong chairman of oversight in the Senate”; Helms considered the principal intelli- 
gence overseer on the Armed Services Comm ittee at that tim e, Senator John Stennis (D-MS), 
“a weak sister” (Richard Helms, interview byl bpe recording, Washington, DC, 

2 February 1988). ' ' 


William E. Colby 

even before Colby’s combat with the Angleton, Hersh, and Heims issues, 
there were numerous new initiatives on Capitol Hill to create fuller 
Congressional oversight of the Agency/ As 1975 began, mounting uneasi- 
ness concerning CIA covert actions had just culminated in the 
Hughes-Ryan amendment, which required a formal Presidential “finding” 
and its report in a “timely fashion” to the appropriate Congressional com- 
mittees before new covert operations could be set in motion. It was 
President Ford’s 16 January revelation that CIA had been involved in 
assassinations, however, that galvanized Congress into action to investigate 
the Agency. 

Capitol Hill’s growing concerns reflected a profound change that had 
been developing in American public attitudes toward covert operations, 
whether CIA or White House. The chummy relationships that had long 
prevailed between the Agency and Congress’s old guard were now a thing 
of the past. As Colby later reflected: 

This was the post- Watergate Congress. . . . The old power structure of the 
Congress could no longer control their junior colleagues and hold off their 
curiosity about the secret world of intelligence. In this new era, CIA was go- 
ing to have to fend for itself without that longtime special Congressional 

Ray Cline put it more succinctly: “The fig leaf had fallen off and we 
were out of the Garden of Eden.”® 

There was no question that times had changed. Numerous committees 
on Capitol Hill were now competing to investigate US intelligence. 
Congress’s mandarins could no longer protect thie Agency. Colby thus 
determined from the outset to play it straight, holding back only when 
Congressional assertiveness seemed likely to threaten executive privilege 
or when the DCFs responsibilities for protecting intelligence sources and 
methods forbade him from revealing names, identities, or sensitive detail. 
Determined to be tough in protecting intelligence sources and methods, yet 
believing that he realistically had no alternative but to be more open, Colby 
set out to do battle with the Congressional investigations, confronting first 
the Senate’s Church committee. 

*One of the principal efforts to provide oversight of the CIA came from Senator Edmund 
Muskie*s (D-ME) Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations (of the Committee on 
Government Operations), which held hearings in early December 1974 on “Legislative 
Proposals to Strengthen Congressional Oversight of the Nation’s Intelligence Agencies;” 
Among this subcommittee’s witnesses supporting more systematic Congressional oversight 
were two former CIA officers, Ray Cline and this author, Harold Ford. 

Colby, Honorable Men, p p. 402-403. 
*Ray Cline, interview byf 

(hereafter cited as Cline interview ^ 

J~|tape recording. Washington, DC, 5 January 1988 

J5 January 



The Church Committee 

Colby testifying before Church committee, 1975 

. Colby’s determination to be more candid with Congress immediately 
created opposition from both inside and outside the Agency. Even before 
1975’s investigations began, many CIA officers had voiced strong opposi- 
tion to his stated intentions to open up the Agency, Such uneasiness 
manifested itself especially within the DO, where ingrained habits of secre- 
tiveness contrasted sharply with the new look championed by their DO 
alumnus, the DCI. As far back as March 1974, Colby’s close friend and 
colleague, DDO William Nelson, had told him: 

I have put this rather bluntly ... it is almost impossible for the DCI to 
discuss operational matters . . . without inviting headlines and stories 
which seriously degrade the fabric of our security and, no matter what the 
original intent lead inevitably to a further exposure of intelligence sources 
and methods by persons inside and outside the Agency who take their cue 
from the man directly charged with this responsibility.^ 

Thanking Nelson for his candor, Colby replied by spelling out his 
attitude toward protecting secrets: 

There are some “bad secrets” which are properly revealed by an aggressive 
press . , . there are some older “non-secrets” which no longer need to be 
kept secret and which we should gradually surface, but there are some ‘ good 
secrets” which deserve greater protection than we have been able to give 
them, in part by reason of their association with “secrets” of lesser 

’william Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, Memorandum for William Colby, DCI, 
“Statement to the Press,” 4 March 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, 
CIA Archives and Records Center ( 'h i h 


William E. Colby 


importance. There have been stumbles (some by me) in the process of 
delineating these categories and their precise content. I do believe, however, 
that the basic outline is appropriate and gives us a guideline to follow.® 

Of even greater significance for Colby, however, was the hostility .he 
now encountered, not least for his candor, from numerous senior 
Washington figures. President Ford, recently blindsided by Colby on two 
occasions, had distanced himself from his DCL Vice President Nelson 
Rockefeller reportedly believed Colby to be weak,® while, according to 
Mitchell Rogovin, Colby’s Special Counsel, Henry Kissinger told Colby on 
one occasion that he was “a fool” for being so forthright with Congress.'® 
Many members of Washington’s establishment were concerned about 
Colby’s openness, as well as his treatment of former DCI Richard Helmsl 
Such attitudes were captured by journalist William Greider’s account of an 
intimate dinner party that establishment journalist (and former CIA officer) 
Tom Braden hosted on I February 1975. Those present included Averell 
Harriman, Stuart Symington, former Secretary of Defense Robert 
McNamara, Henry Kissinger, and Barbara Walters. According to Greider, 
Braden’s guests had assembled “to cheer up an old friend, a comrade 
wounded by recent events.” This comrade was Richard Helms, whom 
Kissinger called “an honorable man,” then added “a word or two of 
private rebuke for the present CIA Director William E. Colby, for having 
made public disclosures of CIA domestic spying.” Greider concluded with 
this comparison of Helms and Colby: 

When old colleagues describe Helms, he emerges as a man of deeper in- 
tellect, more flexible, more cynical, quite skilled at crossing the sliding sands 
of Washington’s bureaucratic struggles. Colby is more obvious, more 
straightforward and even moralistic, according to friends and non-friends. 
Helms is the urbanity of the Chevy Chase Club; Colby is the Boy Scouts in 
Springfield, Va., where he lives.” 

Frank Church and His Committee 

Much as Colby set CIA’s basic stance toward the Church committee, 
so Frank Church (D-ID) heavily influenced his committee’s character and 
style. Church had been an intelligence officer in World War II’s 
China-Burma-India theater, a Phi Beta Kappa scholar from Stanford, and 

^William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for William Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, 
"‘Relations with the Press,” 12 March 1974, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 
3, CIA Archives and Records Center (§ £C*gtT. 

’According to CBS Evening News, 20 June 1975. 

'^Mitchell Rogovin, interview by I l lape r ecording , Washington, DC, 

21 December 1987 (hereafter cited a fs v m - mccn -View b> [ | 2l December 1987) 

William Greider, The Washington Post, 2 February 1975. 

The Church Committee 

one of the youngest men (at age 32) ever elected to the Senate. By early 
1975., having been in the Senate for 19 years, he had gained substantial 
seniority, though not yet a committee chairmanship. Nor had he become a 
member of the Senate’s inner circle. Regarded as rather a loner, Church 
was widely considered to be an ambitious and somewhat pompous law- 
maker, complete with choirboy face and definite Presidential aspirations. 
Two years earlier, as chairman of the subcommittee examining ITT 
behavior in Chile, Church had doggedly pursued CIA and Richard Helms’s 
questionable testimony, only to have been sidetracked in May 1973 by 
backstage collaboration between CIA officers and Senators Jackson and 

Symington. ^ . -u* u 

By early 1975, considerable sentiment had developed within the 

Senate in favor of firmer Congressional oversight of intelligence. On 
27 January, with only four dissenting votes, the Senate established a Select 
Committee To Study Governmental Operations With Respect to 
Intelligence Activities and authorized it to conduct a nine-month study. 
Choosing that committee’s chairman, however, proved more difficult. The 
Senators’ initial preference was for Philip Hart (D-MI), who commanded 
wide respect from both sides of the aisle. But Hart (for whom the Senate’s 
newest office building is named) had to decline the chairmanship because 
of his advanced — ^indeed terminal — case of cancer. 

The chairmanship thus fell, almost by default, to Frank Church. 
Church was the most senior Democratic Senator available-— in fact senior 
to Philip Hart — and he wanted the job badly, having lobbied, actively for it 
with the Senate ’^s Democratic leader, Mike Mansfield of Oklahoma. Fra:^ 
Church’s colleagues were not enthusiastic when he finally got the chair- 
manship. Many felt that he had a penchant for stridency and partisanship, 
which would undercut their efforts to make the new committee nonpartisan 
and responsible. Indeed, once the Democratic leader had picked Church as 
chairman, the Republicans — ^in an attempt to counterbalance him ^brought 
up some of their big guns to serve on the committee: Barry Goldwater, 
John Tower, and Howard Baker.*^ 

In all, the Senate leadership did pick a committee that was broadly 
representative. In addition to Chairman Church and Vice Chairman Tower, 
its members were Democrats Philip Hart, Walter Mondale of Minnesota, 
Walter Huddleston of Kentucky, Robert Morgan of North Carolina, Gary 
Hart of Colorado, and Republicans Howard Baker of Tennessee, Barry 

"William G. Miller, Church committee staff director, interview by 

notes, Washington, DC, 3 April 1988 (hereafter cited as MiUcr interview by Ford, 3 1988) 

The author is indebted to Miller for much of this chapter’s treatm^t of how and 
i^Church was chosen as the committee’s chairman. Miller stayed on as staff 
permanent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was formed in the spnng of 1976. TTus 
chapter’s characterization of Senator Church and the committee is also based on the author s 
own experience as a full-time consultant to the committee— which, among other things, led 
him to be critical of Chairman Church on various scores. 

William E. Colby 


Goldwater of Arizona, Charles “Mac” Mathias of Maryland, and Richard 
Schweiker of Pennsylvania. In its formal procedure at least, this special 
committee was nonpartisan: in Churches absence, the committee was 
chaired by John Tower, not by the next ranking Democrat. 

Upon being named chairman of the new committee. Church made 
several explicit pledges of good behavior. On 27 January 1975 he assured 
the press that he “would not see this inquiry as any type of television 
extravaganza. It*s much too serious to be a sideshow.”*^ Shortly thereafter, 
on “Face the Nation,” Church promised that he would not respond to 
friends’ urgings that he run for President, now that he was chairman of the 
new committee: “There will be no further [such] activity on my behalf 
throughout the life of this investigation. Fm not going to mix Presidential 
politics with anything so important.” 

In practice these pledges did not hold up. Restraint did not character- 
ize the way Church conducted much of his group’s 16-month existence. The 
committee did resort to TV spectaculars, emphasizing the titillating rather 
than the essential. And toward the close of his committee’s life. Church 
declared himself a Presidential candidate. 

Many CIA officers who dealt with the Church committee developed a 
high respect for several of its members, including such Senators as Philip 
Hart, Huddleston, Mondale, and Mathias, who on occasion bored in with 
tough questions. Virtually no Agency officer, however, gave Chairman 
Church high marks. To James Taylor (later CIA’s Executive-Director), 
Church was “just another of those misguided people whose brain cells 
were rearranged wrong or something.”'^ Dick Helms held that “Church’s 
political ambitions ran far ahead of his interest in reaUy doing a thoughtful 
and serious job.”'^ To DO officer John Waller (later Inspector General), 
Church “was least liked by us because he was not interested in the issues. 
In our humble opinion, he was running for President, . . . Putting it 
bluntly, he was a political prostitute, not a seeker of truth.”’’ DI officer 
Richard Lehman (later Chairman of the National Intelligence Council) 
considered Church; 

A sanctimonious son of a bitch. Hypocrite, thy name is Frank 
Church, , . . Fm convinced that he leapt for the job, hoping that it would 
turn out to be a chariot that would carry him to the Presidency, and then 

'^The Washington PosU 28 January 1975. 

“Senator Frank Church, interview, “Face the Nation,” CBS television, Washington, DC, 
2 February 1975. Journalist Seymour Hersh, a panelist on this program, observed that 
Church’s job with this new committee was a ‘‘kamikaze mission.” (CBS’s printed transcript, 
on file in CIA’s Office of Pu blic Affairs, rea ds “kahma kashi”). 

”James Taylor, interview by[ |ap e recording, Washington, DC, 8 March 1988 

(hereafter cited as Taylor int erview Uy^ ~| 8 March 

‘^’Richard Helms, interview byj |tape recording, Washington, DC, 2 February 1988 

(hereafter cited as Helms in terview I5y| ~] 2 February 1988) 

John Waller, interview byj ^ jtape recording, Washington, DC, I December 1987 

(hereafter cited as Waller interview py | ‘ | 1 December 1987)^S^5?«^ 

The Church Committee 

found himself sinking deeper and deeper into this morass in which you never 
did find the smoking gun or whatever, which you could wave. So that, he 
had a knapsack but there wasn’t any baton.*® 

• Despite Frank Church and his political ambitions, many members 
of the committee’s professional staff were determined to pursue the investi- 
gation responsibly and to stick to legitimate intelligence issues. According 
to William Miller, the committee’s staff director, various staffers “tried 
to talk Church out of his initial insistence that the CIA was a rogue 
elephant. ... I told him it simply wasn’t so.” According to Miller, 
Senators Goldwater and Mathias tried to explain to Church that, since past 
Presidents had often ordered CIA to undertake this or that covert activity 
with nothing put on paper, the committee could not expect to be able to 
conclusively document a long series of abuses. 

In contrast to their dislike of Church, many CIA officers thought well 
of the committee’s staff chief. Bill Miller. A typical view is that of DO 
officer Walter Elder, who served as Colby’s liaison officer with the 
committee. According to Elder, while some Agency officials considered 
Miller somewhat “wooly-headed,” a greater number respected him for his 
efforts to keep the investigation on track. In Elder’s view, shared by many 
in CIA, the most difficult staff member to deal with was General Counsel 
F. A. 0. Schwarz, Jr., New York lawyer and toy store heir. Schwarz was 
arrogant, combative, and largely responsible for the sharp split that 
developed within the committee staff, between those who thought the 
committee should proceed responsibly, and those who, as Elder terms it, 
were “hell bent on looking for headlines and thought they had a real juicy 
item in assassination. 

Colby’s Relationship With the Church Committee 

Procedural relationships between the DCI and the committee did not 
fall into place easily and quickly, as they had with the Rockefeller panel. 
Rather, Colby and the committee struggled over many procedural questions 
throughout its lifetime. These issues included physical security; staff clear- 
ances; selection of documents to be sent to the committee, retained for use 
at CIA Headquarters only, or not shown to the committee at all; methods 

‘’Miller interview by Ford, 3 April 1988. ^ 

*NValter Elder, interview by! ^pe r ecording, Washington, DC, 17 September 1987 

(hereafter cited as Elder interview hyl |17 September 1987)^^§^«f€5!*Elder adds that 

the CIA knew more about the Church committee’s internal politics than its staff did, since 
competing groups within the staff talked to CIA but not to each other. 

William E. Colby 

for avoiding leaks; the committee’s' right to declassify documents unilater- 
ally; decisions to be cleared with the White House; legal protection af- 
forded CIA officers testifying on past Agency misconduct; proper handling 
of SIGINT and other highly classified materials iii open hearings; and 
methods for best responding to the committee’s deluge of demands. 
Relationships between the CIA and the committee went through changing 
hot and cold phases. At the outset, things were chilly for some months. The 
situation improved in midsummer, with the arrival of two new, extremely 
able and cooperative senior counsels: Mitchell Rogovin at the CIA and 
John Marsh at the White House. But in the last months of 1975, the com- 
mittee’s relationships with CIA and the White House again worsened. 

During the committee’s lifetime, some central questions were 
resolved to mutual satisfaction, some were not, and some were never ad- 
dressed at all. Many issues got lost in Chairman Church’s penchant for the 
spectacular, while others were lost in the reams of paper that floated around 
among the committee, the White House, CIA, and the rest of the 
Intelligence Community. Countless briefings, meetings, depositions, and 
hearings added to the confusion.^^ Nor was this frenzied activity the 

^'As an example of the Church committee’s demands on the CIA, DO officer 

. reported to Colby in September 1975 that CIA had already devoted an estimat^hu,Quu maH^ 
hours to fielding the committee’s requests, had sent 15 linear feet of file materials to the com- 
mittee, and had mad e available another 54 linear feet of documents at CIA Headquarters for 
committee review | jMemorandura for the Director, “Material for 

Intelligence Coordinating Ufoup, zz September 1975,” CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 3, folder 33, CIA Archives and Records Center 


The Church Committee 

only burden Colby had to bear at the tune: He and the Agency were also 
besieged by Rockefeller Commission inquiries, demands from the House of 
Representative’s Pike committee, other Congressional demands, as well as 
a host of pressing worldwide intelligence issues including— not least— the 
fall of South Vietnam. 

The two most difficult problems that the Church committee posed for 
Colby were its chairman s demands that CIA turn over great numbers of 
documents to him, usually on very short deadlines, and that the committee 
itself have the right to determine what should be made public, regardless of 
CIA and White House views. The first such demands came on 27 February: 
Chinch insisted that the Agency give the committee data on “all Covert 
Action activities; organization charts on CIA down to the branch level, 
with the names of employees who have filled these positions from 1947 to 
the present; full budgetary detail on the Agency from 1947 to the present; 
and all the the legal authority (classified and unclassified) given over the 
ye^ to the Agency and the Intelligence Community.”^^ Soon thereafter, in 
a chillingly polite session at the White House, Senator Church levied re- 
quests the executive branch could not accept.^ 

Questions of access remained a major point of contention in the 
Church committee’s working relationships with Colby and the White 
House. As early as 23 April 1975, Church charged publicly that the com- 
mittee s work was being hampered by “excessive delays” on the part of 
the White House and CIA in turning over requested materials.^'' On that 
same day, Church requested another avalanche of documents from CIA. 
Insisting that “all this material should be produced in 10 days,” he com- 
plained that “too much material called for in our document request remains 
outstanding, and the system apparently being employed to clear material 
for us builds in excessive delays. Colby and the White House were not 
in a good position to answer these particular demands, since they were then 
caught up with a crisis of far greater consequence — the sudden and rapid 
collapse of South Vietnam. 

According to CIA’s John Clarke, Memorandum for the Record, 27 February 1975, CIA 
mstory Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, CIA Archives and Records Center r,1i im (T~ 
George Cary, Memorandum for the Record, “Meeting with Jack Marsh and Philip Buchen 
of the White House Staff,” 7 March 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3^ 
folder 33. CLA Archives and Records Center rag|S»Hffa A Legislative Counsel George 
Cary concluded from the March 1975 convefSatlon with White House Counsels Buchen and 
Marsh -that the White House staff “and I gather the President” were becoming increasingly 
concerned that the committee’s undertakings might have a “crippling effect” on national 
security mechanisms and Presidential authority. Marsh expressed concern that these investi- 
gations would result in the disclosure of links between the Glomar Explorer operation and the 
Hughes Corporation, and between covert US activities in Cuba and Robert Mahue of the 
Hughes Corporation, as well as Mahue’s involvement in Watergate and several other develoo- 
ments. ^ 

New York Times 24 April 1975. 

Senator Frank Church, letter to William Colby, Director of Central Intelligence, 24 April 1975 
LIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R. box 3, folder 33, CIA Archives and Records 
Center (Unclassified). 




William E. Colby 



At its first hearing (which was closed) on 15 May, Colby gave the 
Church committee an overview of CIA covert operations over the past 
30 years. He returned on the 21st, testifying in secret for three hours in a 
difficult session, which he believed got CIA’s relationship with the com- 
mittee off to a poor start: 

Barely had I been sworn in than it iooked as though all our preliminary talk 
about sweet reason was going right out the window. The committee’s coun- 
sel, Fredenck A. 0. Schwarz set out to “clarify” just what the committee 
wanted to know. ... It became clear that what Schwarz really was up to 
was to lay a basis for a ^at foray into PHOENIX again; the “definitions” 
read like a criminal indictment; all that was missing, it seemed, were the 
handcuffs on my wrists.^^ 

Nor was Schwarz’s conduct the only difficulty, because after this 
closed session Church informed the press that Colby had testified that CIA 
had been involved in assassination plots. Although Church acknowledged 
that there was no reason to believe that any assassinations had actually 
been earned out, his remarks created a sensation.^ 

The assassination issue at once produced icy relations between the 
committee and the White House. On 19 June, responding to Senator 
Church’s request for a mass of data on assassination to be delivered within 
the week, Presidential Counsel Buchen wrote: 

Your letter seems to assume that copies of these materials will be provided to 
the Committee for its custody. . . . We [have] made no such commitment 

With respect to that matter, I should point out that the President has ex- 
pressed his hope that the Congress will handle the matter of assassination al- 
legations with the utmost prudence. . . . Additional discussions and 
assurances are necessary before we can responsibly turn over to the Select 
Committee custody copies of materials which might ultimately, at your dis- 
cretion, be pubhcly released in a manner so as to substantially affect the on- 
going diplomatic and foreign affairs interests of this country.''* 

It was at this point that Colby recruited Mitchell Rogovin as Special 
Counsel to help him deal with the Church and Pike committees, Rogovin 
was a highly regarded Washington attorney who had been chief counsel for 
Conmon Cause, In his new CIA position he quickly won respect from all 
parties— the Congressional committees, the CIA, the Intelligence 
Commumty, and the White House. Hiring Rogovin, Colby later recalled, 
was “peffiaps, the smartest move in the entire exercise.”^^ 

“CoIby, Honorable Men, pp. 427-428. 

New York Times, 23 April 1975, 

Frank Church, 19 June 1975, CIA History Staff Records 
Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 

Colby, Honorable Men, p. 427. 



The Church Committee 

Rogovin’s arrival, however, did not arrest the steady deterioration of 
Colby’s position. During the summer and autumn, numerous rumors 
emanated from the White House that Colby was finished as Director of 
Central Intelligence. One of the earliest occurred on 20 June, when CBS’s 
evening TV news claimed that high administration figures, “including Vice 
President Rockefeller and Secretary of State Kissinger,” now believed that 
Colby should be fired “as soon as possible.” Rockefeller, reported CBS, 
considered Colby a “weak person who lacks strength of character and 
should not be in one of the most sensitive positions in the US 
Goverament.” On CBS’s 2 July Morning News, Daniel Schorr reported 
that, in the White House a coup attempt, which had begun with a split 
between Colby and Helms, had now been brought to the Cabinet level. 
According to Schorr, Henry Kissinger — “with the powerful support of Vice 
President Rockefeller” — ^had asked for Colby’s resignation, on the grounds 
that he had damaged US intelligence and hurt Ambassador Helms’s work 
in Iran. Similar news items undermining Colby continued over the next 
three months until 6 October, when the White House finally announced that 
President Ford had begun a search for a person “of commanding 
presence,” with a background outside the Intelligence Community, to take 
over a restructured CIA.^° And, on 19 October, journalist Nicholas Horrock 
reported that the Ford administration was reviewing a list of potential suc- 
cessors to Colby, but as yet had “found no one with the qualities . . . [the 
President] felt the job called for who would accept the post.”^^ 

During these months. Senator Church and his committee also 
contributed to Colby’s woes by leaking sensitive information. One of the 
worst examples occurred on 10 July, when Church announced that he was 
investigating charges that the CIA had periodically “infiltrated” the White 
House and other agencies. This charge was wholly baseless, arising out of 
serious misunderstandings on the part of the House’s Pike committee.^^ 
Soon thereafter, on 15 July, Church publicly called CIA “a rogue elephant 
rampaging out of control.”” A week later. The New York Times, citing 
“authoritative sources,” charged that there had been a second track (Track 
II) in past US covert operations in Chile. Because there were “contradic- 
tions” in earlier testimony Helms had given Senate committees over 
“the depth and extent of CIA activities against Dr. Allende,” the Times 
stated, this information had been forwarded to the Department of Justice 

^^The Washington Post, 1 October 1975. 

^^The New York Time s 20 October 1975. 

^~The New York Times, 11 July 1975. This issue is discussed in the next chapter. 

“rhtf Baltimore Sun, 16 July 1975. 


William E. Colby ^ 

“for study of whether the contradictions may constitute peijury.”^" A few 
days later, a Church committee staff member leaked a very sensitive 
memorandum about CIA’s backstage moves in May 1973, which with 
Senator Henry Jackson’s help had detoured Frank Church s earlier probe of 
CIA, ITT, and Chile.” On 9 September, Church announced that for five 
years the CIA had kept on hand deadly poisons “enough to kill thousands 
of people’’ and that the decision not to destroy those poisons had been 
made in 1970— when Helms was DCI.“ Church committee staffer Loch 
Johnson recalls that, in conducting the hearing on these issues. Senator 
Church “seemed to be unchaining the rogue elephant theory again, though 
without using that phrase.” By this time, many members of the committee 
had become critical of their chairman for seeking the spectacular and for 
thus losing sight of the committee’s original objective to conduct a calm 
and responsible investigation.” 

A week later, 16 September, at the committee’s first public hearing, 
Colby sealed his own fate. Church chose to begin his inquiry with the 
sensational topic of toxins. The TV public was treated to the picture of the 
Director of Central Intelligence handing the committee a small battery- 
powered dart weapon that— with deadly toxins developed by CIA— could 
kill in seconds and leave no trace.” Assuring the committee that these guns 
had never been used, Colby testified that a middle-level ClA officer had 
the decision to preserve the toxins without his superiors’ knowledge. 
Unfortunately, Colby’s assurances made little impression. More thaii any 
other incident, this image of Colby and the dart gun accelerated his fall. 
That ghastly day when the committee and the media made a circus out of 
the poisons and the dart gun, Colby later recalled, constituted “the last 
straw for the White House.” That event “blew the roof off,” and from that 
day on, Colby acknowledges, “gossip and rumor spread like wild-fire 
throughout Washington that my days were numbered.”^’ 

”r/ie New York Tim es. 23 July 1975. 

“FBI Memorandum I , — 

History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3. CIA Archives and Records Center 

alsnl iDeoutv Leeislative Counsel, Memorandum for [CIA] Messrs. Nelson, Blee, 

I ^ ,F==^===[ .. er. J n ... TT Tlvr Darroe-elino 

Warner, Rogovin, and 

Warner, Kogovm, aiiui i‘*Obligation Toward Senator Henry M. Jackson Regarding 

Leakage of Material Fr bm me ab ate Select Gommittee,” 17 October 1975, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 33, CIA Archives and Records Center OntgfliiWJsJf 

'^The New York Times, 10 September 1975. 

^’Johnson, A Season of Inquiry, pp. 74-75. 

'“Colby’s Special Counsel, Mitchell Rogovin, recalls that he tried without success to talk 
Church out of beginning the committee’s open hearings with this volatUe subject (Rogovin, 
interview by| |21 December 1987). Colby later recalled that he had ‘‘unwittingly, 

handed the c ommittee a corker on a silver platter^’ (Colby, Honorable Men, p. 440). 

''’Colby, Honorable Men, pp. 443-444. 




/ The Church Committee 

By mid-October, Colby had faced off with the Church committee 
over its intention to publish a report on assassination in which the commit- 
tee would make its own decisions on what should and should not become 
public. Scott Breckinridge, CIA’s Deputy Inspector General, told F. A. 0. 
Schwarz that the committee’s draft report not only revealed the true names 
of certain CIA officers, but also applied a kind of ex post facto morality by 
condemning operational planning that, when originated, was an accepted 
part of broader US Cold War considerations/^ 

On this issue the Ford administration finally swung to Colby’s side, 
supporting his efforts to kill or water down the committee’s assassination 
report. On 19 October, The New York limes reported that the White 
House was developing ‘‘a sense of growing fatigue and irritation” with the 
intelligence leaks coming out of Congress. The primary antagonists now 
became the Church committee versus President Ford, with Colby and the 
CIA playing a supporting role. At the end of the first week of November, 
President Ford sent a strongly worded letter to each of the committee’s 

Scott Breckinridge, Deputy Inspector General, Memorandum for the Record, “Contact with 
SSC Staff— 16 October 1975,” 17 October 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, 
box 3, folder 33, CIA Archives and Records Cpnrp.r 



William E. Colby 


members, setting forth in great detail why he thought their impending 
assassination report would harm national security. Paralleling this action, 
the Justice Department filed affidavits opposing efforts to make public any 
government documents concerning past assassination planning. But the 
administration’s efforts proved unavailing. Except for Senator Tower (who 
voted “Present”), the committee on 3 November chose to publish its assas- 
sination report, although agreeing to submit the draft report to a special 
secret session of the entire Senate before releasing it to the public. 

The administration and CIA believed — inaccurately, as it proved — 
that their case was so strong that the Senate could not unilaterally publish 
its report. The Justice Department had found that Congress had no con- 
stitutional authority to release information classified by the Executive. CIA 
felt that its position was strong, legally and politically, ^d that there was 
“every likelihood” that the courts would rule that the committee did not 
have the legal right to declassify materials that the President had certified 
as classified.'^' 

To support his efforts to block publication of the committee’s assassi- 
nation report, Colby invited a number of leading medi a figures to an un- 
precedented news conference in CIA’s Headquarters auditorium on 
19 November, There he tried to make the case that the committee’s report 
should not include the names of CIA officers who were alleged to have 
been involved in past assassination planning. Although the White House 
was aware that he had called this conference, Colby told the group that the 
initiative for it had been solely his. Although there was a lot of give-and- 
take between the media and Colby at this session, there was little meeting 
of the mihds.'*^ 

The next day, 20 November, the full Senate met in secret session to 
consider the Church committee’s draft assassination report. The session 
was a shambles, and the Senate took no action on the issue.'^^^ The Church 
committee released its assassination report later that same day. The report 
revealed that, although US Government officials had initiated plots to 
assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba, and Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, no 
foreign leaders had actually been killed as a result of such plots. The report 
also stated, however, that American officers had encouraged or been privy 
to indigenous coup plots which had resulted in the deaths of Rafael Trujillo 
(Dominican Republic), Ngo Dinh Diem (Vietnam), and General Rene 
Schneider (Chile). The report also held that CIA officials had made use of 
known underworld figures in assassination planning,'*^ 

■“John Warner, General Counsel, Memorandum for William Colby, Director of Central 
Intelligence, “Arrangements with the Senate Select Committee,*’ 6 November 1975, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 33, CIA Archives and Records Center. 
‘‘Video of that auditorium session, on file in CIA’s Office of Public Affairs. 

Congressional Record, 20 November 1975, S-20623-20650. 

““Church committee, Alleged Assassination Plots, 255-279. 


The Church Committee 

Significantiy, the committee’s report could not identify a culprit Instead, 
it discovered so little accountability in command and control systems. 
White House and CIA, that the assassination plots could have been under- 
taken without any express authorization. Subordinates had not disclosed 
their plans and operations to their superiors, nor had those superiors ruled 
out assassination as a tool of US foreign policy. The report did ac- 
knowledge, however, that all these plots had occurred in a Cold War at- 
mosphere and that CIA officers involved in such planning had believed as- 
sassination to be a permissible course of action.**^ 

Public reaction to the assassination report was relatively restrained 

neither as shocked at past conduct as Senator Church, nor as dismayed 
by the disclosures as President Ford, Colby, and CIA. A typical editorial 
reaction (in The Washington Star) held that the committee’s report was 
a remarkable demonstration of confidence in a free society’s capacity to 
confront its own iniquities, to take them to heart, and to adjust national 
policy as a result.” American participation in the assassination planning, 
the Star concluded, was “unquestionably the work of officials who thought 
not only that they were acting under proper authority but that they were 
acting in the nation’s best interests.”’’” A notable exception to such restraint 
was Secretary of State Kissinger’s speech to the Economic Club of Detroit, 
where he called on the American people to end “the self-flagellation that 
has done so much harm to this nation’s capacity, to conduct foreign 
policy.’”" Kissinger, of course, had been critical of Colby’s open approach 
from the outset. 

Meanwhile, on 2 November, shortly before the committee published 
its report. President Ford announced that he intended to replace Colby as 
Director of Central Intelligence,'*® Within a few days, however, Ford had to 
ask Colby if he would remain in office a while longer, so that his successor 
as DCI, George Bush, would have time to disengage from his post as US 
Representative in Beijing and to receive Senate confirmation. Colby 
consented to soldier on for the interim. 

Congressional and media reaction to Colby’s dismissal was fairly 
supportive, emphasizing the contributions his candor had made. Support 
came from many points of the political compass, from Hubert Humphrey to 
John Tower. The Washington Post viewed Colby as having “engaged in a 
witting and honorable act of self-sacrifice which was price enough, it 
seems to us, for him to pay without being unceremoniously dumped,” This 
editorial termed the Ford White House “a weak caretaker, presiding over a 
divided and unruly government, with a domineering Secretary of 
State . . . and a CIA Director whose compulsion to come clean was above 

Despite Colby’s insistence that the names of all CIA officers allegedly involved in assassi- 
nation planning be deleted, the committee’s report left in 10 of an original 30 such names 
^The Washington Star, 21 November 1975. 

^The Washington Post, 25 November 1975. 

The New York Times, 3 November 1975. 


William E. Colby 

and beyond the call of a supposedly open administration.”^^ A New York 
Times article similarly supported Colby, noting that he knew “his days 
were numbered” because the White House and the State Department 
thought that “he was not doing a good job containing the Congressional in- 
vestigations.”^ Somewhat surprisingly, one of Colby’s strongest defenders 
was Seymour Hersh, who had been chiefly responsible for provoking the 
investigations in the first place. In a front page The New York Times article, 
Hersh criticized Church and his committee for having “bogged down” on 
the question of assassination, and for having unearthed nothing that the 
CIA had not already discovered and stopped. Colby was receiving wide 
praise for having played it straight with the committee, Hersh reported, 
even though “his approach is known to have angered many friends and 
associates of Richard Helms.” Hersh added that at a recent gathering of 
Agency employees in CIA’s auditorium, Colby had received a standing- 
ovation that lasted five minutes, and Hersh quoted a witness who said, 
“Now everyone inside the Agency is saying that Colby died for. our 

In fact, several developments worked to Colby’s advantage during his 
last few weeks as DCI. In addition to a fairly restrained public reaction to 
the committee’s assassination report, widespread dismay at the way the 
President was treating his DCI, and a growing respect for Colby’s 
forthright approach to the committee, December 1975 brought a second 
committee report — on the CIA and Chile — which backed away from earlier 
sensationalism. While acknowledging that the Agency had spent 
$13 million on anti-AUende operations, this document concluded that the 
CIA had no direct involvement in Chile’s 1973 military coup or in 
Allende’s death.^^ Meanwhile, many had begun to point out that Church’s 
charges of a CIA monster run amok had obscured the real purpose of 
Agency and US intelligence, and the CIA was now taking the heat for 
covert ventures formulated by higher authority. Finally, Church himself fed 
the growing support for Colby and the Agency when he indicated that he 
intended to run for President after all. 

Still another development that helped Colby in these closing weeks 
as DCI was the terrorist murder of CIA’s Athens Chief of Station, Richard 
Welch, on 23 December. This event, coming on top of weeks of growing 
public weariness with the irresponsibility of the Church and Pike commit- 
tees, immediately swung more support behind CIA and Colby, aided by 
skillful steps that he and the White House took to exploit the Welch murder 
to US intelligence benefit. 

*^The Washington Post, 5 November 1975. 

^“Leslie Gelb, The New York Times, 10 November 1975. 


^’Reuter release, 4 December 1975; The New York Times, 5 December 1975. 





The Church Committee 

Retrospect on the Church Committee 

' There is no question but that the Church committee’s sensationalism 
was the prime mover of Colby’s demise. Deserted by the White House and 
hemmed in on all sides, he was confronted by so many no-win situations 
that his good intentions never had a chance to bear fruit. Lost in the events 
surrounding the Church committee investigation was the fact that virtually 
all of the items Senator Church and his colleagues “exposed” had already 
been surfaced, denounced, and outlawed by Colby himself. Also lost was 
an appreciation that CIA had undertaken many of these misdeeds at the 
direction of successive Presidents, during years of Cold War fears that 
America was under siege from a relentless world foe. Missing, too, was 
any committee concern for the central purpose of intelligence: accurate 
guidance to US policymakers and a search for ways to improve that 

For many in Congress and the public, what mattered was that all 
these revelations of past misbehavior simply did not square with America’s 
image of itself as an innocent. It was psychologically uncongenial to learn 
that CIA had intervened in other countries, contributed to the deaths of cer- 
tain foreign leaders, tried to assassinate others, done business with gang- 
sters, developed deadly toxins, and interfered with the rights of Americans. 
Other countries’ secret agencies might do these things, but never ours. 
Thus, to many, Colby was neither a reformer nor the whistle-blower who 
had corrected misbehavior, but rather the accused who sat in front of the 
committee’s klieg lights and TV cameras. Someone had to take the fall, 
and there was no more available candidate than he. 

As for Church’s initial “rogue elephant” theme, this impression of 
CIA survived even though the committee’s final report largely absolved the 
Agency of that charge and reminded the reader that the White House had 
usually given the orders. The final report, as the following passage reveals, 
presented the Agency not so much as a rogue elephant as a backstage in- 
strument of US foreign policy making: 

The current political climate and the mystique of secrecy surrounding the in- 
telligence profession have created misperceptions about the Central 
Intelligence Agency. The CIA has come to be viewed as an unfettered 
monolith, defining and determining its activities independent of other 
elements of government and of the direction of American foreign policy. 
This is a distortion. . . . The CIA has not been free ... to carry out covert 
action as it sees fit. The committee’s investigation revealed that on the 
whole, the Agency has been responsive to internal and external review and 
authorization requirements. Most of the significant covert operations have 
been approved by the appropriate NSC committee. At the same time, the 
committee notes that approval outside the Agency does not solve all 

William E. Colby 

problems since the NSC committees have approved (and in some cases in- 
itiated) projects that involved highly improper practices or were inconsistent 
with declared foreign policies.^^ 

For Colby and the Agency, however, the problem was that only a 
small fraction of the public carefully absorbed the committee’s final report 
in detail — even though, thanks to the committee staff’s work, this docu- 
ment was more constructive than the committee itself had been. 

The committee’s inquiries did serve a useful purpose in bringing 
to light certain examples of CIA’s earlier questionable behavior, demon- 
strating that the Agency had not always been simply a handmaiden for 
White House schemes. According to the committee’s final report, some 
CIA officers had on occasion behaved like “cowboys”, and even DCIs 
had not always been completely informed as to what was going on. 

Perhaps the most startling revelation of the Church committee’s 
investigation was news that past Presidents and CIA officers had 
considered the idea of assassination. Although the committee’s members 
could not agree among themselves on just what CIA’s responsibilities had 
been, their report clearly brought out the ambiguities of authority and 
control. Helms and other former CIA operations officers testified that they 
understood that they should rid the world of certain especially bad 
characters, but the comrmttee never found any such directives from higher 
authority, and former White House officials testified that no such efforts 
had ever been ordered or even intended. The following exchange between 
former DCI Richard Helms and Senator Charles Mathias illustrates these 

Mathias: Let me draw an example from history. When Thomas Becket 
was proving to be an annoyance, as Castro, the King said who 
will rid me of this man. He didn’t say to somebody, go out and 
murder him. He said who will rid me of this man, and let it go 
at that. 

”US Congress, Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to 
Intelligence Activities (Church committee), Final Report, Foreign and Military Intelligence, 
94th Cong., 2nd sess., Book 1, April 1976 (hereafter cited as Church committee. Book 1)' 
jjp. 97, 447 (emphasis in the original). 

One of the clearest expositions of operational enthusiasm — and momentum — was voiced 
during the committee’s hearings by the widely experienced Clark Clifford: “On a number of 
occasions, a plan for covert action has been presented to the NSC and authority is requested 
for the CIA to proceed from point A to point B. The authority will be given and the action 
will be launched. When point B is reached, the persons in charge feel that it is necessary to 
go to point C. and they assume that the original authorization gives them such a right. From 
point C, they go to D and possibly E, and even further. This has led to some bizarre results, 
and, when an investigation is started, the excuse is blandly presented that authority was ob- 
tained from the NSC before the project was launched. ... The lack of proper controls has 
resulted in a freewheeling course of conduct on the part of persons within the Intelligence 
Community that has led to spectacular failures and much unfortunate publicity” (Clifford tes- 
timony, US Congress, Hearings Before the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental 
Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities [Church committee], Covert Action, 94th 
Cong., 1st sess., 4 and 5 December 1975, pp. 51-52). 

The Church Committee 

Helms: That is a wanning reference to the problem. 

Mathias: You feel that spans the generations and the centuries? 

Helms: I think it does, sir. 

Mathias: And that is typical of the kind of thing which might be said 
which might be taken by the Director or by anybody else as 
Presidential authorization to go forward? 

Helms: That is right But in answer to that, I realize that one sort of 

grows up in [the] tradition of the time and I think that any of us 
would have found it very difficult to discuss assassination s 
with a President of the U.S. I just think we all had the feeling 
that we’re hired out to keep those things out of the Ova! Office. 

Mathias: Yet at the same time you felt that some spark had been trans- 
mitted, that that was within the permissible limi ts:? 

Helms: Yes, and if he [Castro] had disappeared from the scene they 

would not have been unhappy.^^ 

The anger that President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger felt 
toward Colby can be understood by appreciating that they, like former DCI 
John McCone, had been kept in the dark about some illicit CIA activities. 
In their case, the officer who had not informed them had been their DCI, 
Colby. He had riot purposely held out on them, but the upshot was the 
sarne. White House ignorance of questionable, politically sensitive CIA 
activities that led to major White House embarrassment when news of them 
suddenly and unexpectedly broke. 

As sensationalism about CIA grew during the course of the 1975 
investigations, Colby understandably became an increasing embarrassment 
to the President. .Mr. Ford’s discomfort was all the greater since as an 
unelected PresMent his own political base was less than fully secure. 
Consequendy, in the hopes of strengthening his Presidential team. Ford 
proceeded to rid himself of officials who had become embarrassments to 
^m. Colby had never been this President’s man; Ford had simply inherited 
him from the previous administration. This was also true of Ford’s asser- 
tive Secretary of Defense, James Schlesinger. In the event, the President 
moved both of them out at the same time and brought in his own men, two 
former colleagues from the House of Representatives, George Bush to 
replace Colby, and Donald Rumsfeld to replace Schlesinger. 

impoi^t degree Colby was a victim of circumstance, who had 
inherited responsibility for the Agency’s reprehensible past conduct at a 
time of rapidly changing public attitudes toward the role of intelligence in 
American life. The White House, angered by his openness, sought to 
stonewall the Congressional investigations while holding Colby at arm’s 
length. Colby was thus squeezed between a hostile President and a Senate 
committee chairman who valued sensationalism over constructive criticism 
of American intelligence. 

Church committee, Alleged Assassination Plots, p. 149 , 


William E, Colby 


In his last months as DCI, Colby also had to contend with substantial 
criticism from many Agency officers. His candor with the Church com- 
mittee (and the House’s Pike committee) and his handling of the Helms 
issue proved anathema to CIA traditionalists. “The openness was 
Mr. Colby’s idea,” DO officer Eloise Page later observed, ‘T think you can 
say it almost destroyed the Agency. In George Carver’s view, for Colby 
to go to Justice about Helms was “utterly reprehensible.” “I, myself, will 
never forgive Colby for what he did to Helms because it was utterly 
uncalled for.”^ Not surprisingly, James Angleton reportedly held vitriolic 
views of Colby’s behavior, believing — according to one contemporary 
account — ^that Colby had “reacted too quickly to Congressional pressures 
and had disclosed too many secrets.”^* Helms was understandably also 
critical. In a 1982 interview he observed: 

I can’t believe that I would have sat there and turned over bales and bales of 
Secret reports to those Senate committees without a fight. . . . Therefore, 
when all this was regurgitated and shipped up to Capitol Hill, I, and I think 
others . . . regarded this as a betrayal of trust.^® 

Many did not agree with such criticisms. Support for Colby’s conduct 
came from many quarters in Congress, the media, the public, and from 
within CIA and the Intelligence Community. For example, John Blake 
(then the Agency’s Deputy Director for Administration, who later became 
staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) affirms that 
“I support what Bill Colby did 100 percent, 99 percent anyway.”®^ DO 
officer David Phillips later wrote that “I am of the school that believes 
Colby’s course was the correct one, even if he might have started too fast 
too soon. But there was no other way in the end.”*^’ Carl Duckett, Colby’s 
DDS&T, has stated that “I just don’t have any real criticism of Bill ... I 
personally believe the Agency, was better served by revealing and that goes 
with no exceptions of which I am aware. I would say he rates a 12 or so 
[on a scale of 15].”^^ On 15 January 1976, in awarding Colby a medal 
shortly before he retired, Lt, Gen. Sam Wilson (then Deputy DCI for the 
Intelligence Community) told USIB that: 

Bill Colby has . , . displayed courage, forebearance and patience. ... No 
one in modern history has contributed more to the leadership of the 

’^oise Page, interview by| _ 

(hereafter cited as Page inte rview 6y[ 
’’George Carver, interview by| ^ 
(hereafter cited as Carver in 

[tape recording, Washington, DC, 10 December 1987 
"J IO December 1987) 

^ recording. Washington, DC, 11 December 1987 
:crview by| |ll December 1 987) 

'William Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, Memorandum for the Record, ** James 
Angleton,” 19 November 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R. box 3, CIA 
Archives and Records Center 
’’Helms interview by Bro ss, 14 Decembe r 1982. 

“John Blake, interview by| [tape re cording, Washington, DC, 10 November 1987 

(hereafter cited as Blake interview oy i llO November 1987) fScpritl* 

^‘Phillips, The Night Whfcft, pp. 290-2^ ' 

®^Cari Duckett, interview by | 

(hereafter cited as Duckett interview by(_ 

~|tape r ecording, Washington^Dp, 4 January 1988 
H January 1988) 




The Church Committee 

Intelligence Community .... Mr. Colby is a legend in his own time; des- 
tiny had tapped him on the shoulder. He has made better people of us all just 
by being associated with him.^ 

On balance, Colby, nonetheless, received more criticism than support 
for his candor with the Church committee. Of the many considerations 
working against him, one of the. most significant was his earlier leading 
role in the PHOENIX program in Vietnam. Rightly or wrongly, the public 
widely beHeved PHOENIX to have been a kilUng field directed by Colby, 
and numerous voices in the media of the time questioned how the man 
responsible for such a reprehensible chapter in Vietnam’s history could 
now be taken seriously as a progressive reformer. 

Even Colby’s personality worked against him. Selling his particular 
package ^better public understanding of intelligence through greater CIA 
openness— would have been tough for the wannest and most persuasive of 
DCIs. As it was, Colby’s all-business and seemingly emotionless manner 
complicated his sales problem. That he was not emotionless became 
increasingly evident as 1975 wore on and his patience frayed at those who 
could not or would not appreciate his rationale. 

In the final analysis, however, Colby was not merely a victim of 
circumstance, but also contributed significantly to his own downfall. First, 
he lost any support he might have expected from President Ford and 
Secretary Kissinger by twice failing to warn them when political time 
bombs were about to explode. Second, it was in his power to resist 
Church’s wishes — and style — ^more forcefully than he did. Finally, while 
his faith in an open course and his belief that reason would cany the day 
were admirable, many in his audience were preoccupied with their own 
agendas: to gain political advantage, to prove their own preconceptions, or 
just to keep things as they were. 

Handling the Church committee would have been difficult enough, 
had it been Colby’s sole antagonist. Doubly unfortunate, however, was the 
fact that a host of other challenges also beset him. The foremost of these 
was another Congressional investigation, the House’s Pike committee. In 
its own way, that committee gave Colby nearly as much grief as had the 
politically ambitious Frank Church and his colleagues. 

On the occasion of the USIB’s awarding William Colby the National Intelligence 
Distinguished Service Medal, 15 January 1976, USIB-M-712 (Sejjjatjr 





Chapter 11 

The Pike Committee 

We were certainly not 
of the CIA. Of course 
did a lousy job. 

asked to write a report 
Mr. Colby is not going 

which would meet the approval 
to like it We said that the CIA 

Congressman Otis Pike (D-NY), 1976 

The real issue involved here, the real issue^^ could^^ d^aSn^ to this 
this House unilaterally release ^ ^ fellow jumping 

down. It simply cannot be done. 

Congressman Dale Milford (D-TX). 29 January 1976’ 

The House Select Committee on Intelligence (Pike con^ttee) was 

M,. ir^quiries da^g^l by 

style. Although m its conduot was moth 

r raTS'dSti?^ ?hfpibe — 'i 

• L ^ Ti_ A iTnii«;e were more acrimonious oecause u 

with Colby and the White House we ^ Church 

their s?Ss°k?the Ssfpart. the 

Ss”S^la5Ten^SlylcS *an their chairman, many 

'Congressman Otis Pike to joumaUst Oriana Falacci. as cited in I7« New Republic. 3 April 1976. 
^Cong^jiona/ Record, 29 January 1976, p. 1,639. 


William E. Colby 

of the House committee’s staffers were even more erratic than Chairman 
Pike. Over and above their common effort to uncover CIA’s shortcomings 
and alleged illegaiities, the two committees also shared their ultimate fate: 
after rocketing noisily for a while, both eventually feU to Earth. The Senate 
conamittee did so with a whimper; the House committee, with a bang. 

Despite his many troubles with the Pike coininittee, the Church 
committee had far more influence on Colby’s longevity as DCL He was 
also less involved personally with the Pike group than he was with Frank 
Church and Co. From the outset, Colby nonetheless faced vexing problems 
with respect to the House probe. High among these was that body’s unique 
Rule XI, giving a// members of the House access to all House documents, 
and the question of how to get. a constructive chairman. 

The first chairman of the House investigative group, Lucien Nedzi, 
had for some time headed the House Armed Services Special 
' Subcommittee on Intelligence where he had generally supported the 

Agency. Colby’s severe problems with the House investigative effort did 
not begin until July, on the eve of Otis Pike’s becoming chairman. 

The Nedzi and Pike Committees 

In January, however, Colby’s immediate concern centered on a 
lawsuit filed by Congressman Michael Harrington (D-MA) that sought an 
injunction against CIA foreign and domestic operations. Harrington 
charged that all of the Agency’s operations were illegaL In his view, previ- 
ous Congressional intelligence subcommittees had all been “willing 
patsies” for the Agency, providing a “fictional cover” of Congressional 
approval for CIA activities. He included the Rockefeller Commission in 
this criticism, calling it simply “another example of CIA coddling.” 
Harrington castigated the Nedzi subcommittee for not moving quickly to 
investigate the CIA and submitted a bill. to create a new House select com- 
mittee on intelligence, which he hoped to chair.^ His initiatives created a 
major problem for the House, and for Colby: how to deny 
Harrington — who had earlier leaked classified House testimony to the 
press — ^from chairing a new select committee on. intelligence. 

Nedzi did not sit still for this attack on his position. Determined that 
he would lead any House investigation of the CIA, he had announced on 
6 January 1975 that his subcommittee would conduct its own investigation 
of the charges against the CIA, no matter what the Justice Department and 
the Rockefeller Commission might do.^ Nedzi also worked diligently to 

^Congressman Michael Harrington, remarks to the House of Representatives, Congressional 
Record, 17 January 1975, E59-60; Stewart Dill McBride, in the Christian Science Monitor, 
8 January 1975; column by Mary Russell, The Washington Post, 8 January 1975. 

^The New York Times, 1 January 1975. 


The Pike Committee 

keep Harrington off any House intelligence investigating committee. The 
White House made parallel efforts — including a suggestion from 
Presidential Counsel John Marsh that Harrington be sent a “screw you” 

Meanwhile, in a basically straight party line vote (286 to 120) on 
19 February, the House established a Select Committee on Intelligence and 
named Nedzi its chairman. That group consisted of three Republicans and 
10 Democrats — including Harrington. Nedzi told Qeorge Cary “in the 
utmost confidence” that Harrington’s inclusion had been the child of poli- 
tics. Speaker Carl Albert (D-OK) had appointed Harrington to the Select 
Committee as a result of direct and unyielding pressure from House 
Majority Leader Tip O’Neill (D-MA). John Marsh of the White House told 
Cary that a relative of Mr. O’Neill’s had recently run for the position of 
Lt. Governor of the state of Massachusetts, and Harrington had supported 
his candidacy. Cary believed that the pressure on Mr. O’Neill was “obvi- 
ously a quid pro quo.”^ 

Nedzi ’s new committee dragged its feet for days. Seven weeks after 
being commissioned, it had hired neither staff director nor staff; in 
contrast, the Senate’s Church committee, took on a staff director and 
40 staffers within its first month. After nine weeks, the only officer Nedzi’s 
committee had appointed was a security director who, according to The 
Washington Post, had “nothing to guard.”’ This leisurely pace created still 
another problem for Colby, by giving a number of other House committees 
(including the House committees on Government Operations, Judiciary, 
Post Office and Civil Service, and Interstate and Foreign Commerce) time 
to try to get into the act of investigating US intelligence,^ 

Nedzi’s committee did not select a staff director until 13 May, some 
12 weeks after having been formed. Nedri chose A. Searle Field, 30, form- 
erly an aide to Connecticut Republican Senator Lowell Weicker. Journalist 
George Lardner reported that Congressman Ronald Dellums (D-CA), 
a member of Nedzi’s committee, preferred Ramsey Clark for the post, 
observing that Dellums and other members of the committee worried that, 
when one pitted Field “against the Helms of the world, the FBI directors of 
the world,” the potential for slaughter would be obvious.’ 

^George Cary, Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Conversation with 
Mr. John O, Marsh, Counselor to the President, Regarding Representative Michael 
Harrington and the House Select Committee on Intelligence,” 24 February 1975, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center 

for the Record, “Conversation with Marsh re: Harrington,” 24 February 


^The Washington Post, 27 April 1975. 

‘CIA/OLC Journal, 28 April 1975, CIA History Staff records, jo b 90B00336R, box 3, folder 
39, CIA Archives and Records Center (^ggwy | J Dcputy Legislative Counsel, 

Memorandum for the Record, “Discussion with the Speaker of Ae House of Representatives, 
1 May 1975," 13 May 1975, CiA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, 
CIA Archives and Records Center (Secreiz SafWffWT. 

’^Washington Post, 14 May 1975. 

fiflnirinl li 1 1 I ' lITTl 
Tary, Memorandum 


William E, Colby 

By this time, many Congressmen had begun to criticize Nedzi for his 
failure to press the investigation of US intelligence more vigorously. Led 
by Michael Harrington, they charged that Nedzi, having been informed 
more than a year before of CIA assassination planning and improper 
domestic operations, had sat on that knowledge and done nothing. This led 
them to conclude that Nedzi was not the person to conduct a thorough and 
fair investigation of the CIA. Pressures on Nedzi to give up the chairman- 
ship of the select committee mounted. 

Colby became aware of Nedzi’s troubles when he first showed up to 
testify to his committee on 12 June. Colby found that no meeting was 
going to take place, after all. Nedzi had just resigned his chairmanship, the 
Republican members of the committee had boycotted the hearing, and 
House Speaker Carl Albert had put the whole question of Nedzi’s chair- 
manship on hold.‘° 

Finally, on 17 July, 21 weeks after having supposedly begun its 
investigation of US intelligence, the House abolished Nezdi’s committee 
and formed a new select committee, this time chaired by Otis Pike of New 
York. The House increased this committee’s size by three members to 13. 
Although it also dropped Congressman Harrington, it retained all the 
former Nedzi committee staffers. Pike immediately announced that his 
committee would investigate the fiscal aspects of CIA but would leave the 
field of political assassination to the Senate’s Church conunittee. 

Otis Pike’s prior record betrayed little indication of the erratic, indeed 
bizarre, manner in which he was to conduct the House’s investigation of 
US intelligence. He was a wholly establishment Congressman— a magna 
cum laude graduate of Princeton, a World War H Marine Corps captain 
who had won five air medals flying 120 combat missions in the South 
Pacific, and a man who had been steadily reelected to Congress from a 
conservative district since 1960. That he conducted his committee in a 
raucous manner is a judgment widely shared, and the House of 
Representatives ultimately repudiated him by refusing to publish his com- 
mittee’s report. 

Virtually all CIA officers who dealt with Pike and his committee 
became sharply critical of it. Colby considered the committee 
“a disaster,”” its chairman “a jackass,”*^ and its staff a “ragtag, immature, 
and publicity-seeking” group, a “bunch of children who were out to seize 
the most sensational high ground they could” and who* were not interested 
in a serious review of what intelligence is really aU about. 

^'^The Washington Star^ 11 June 1975; CIA70LC Journal, 12 June 1975, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center 
"Colby interview b y Ford, 3 February 1987 
'^Colby interview byl |l5 March 1988. 

'^Colby, Honorable Men, pp. 431-432. 



William E. Colby 

DO officer Donald Gregg, CIA’s liaison with Pike’s committee, con- 
fided at the time to the author that “at various times during my DO career 
some of my colleagues have considered me a dangerous liberal; but now, in 
the eyes of the Pike committee staffers. I’m a Fascist beast.”'" Later, Gregg 
recalled that the months he had spent with the Pike committee “were the 
toughest I ever put in with the Agency.” The committee staff had been in- 
structed to make the Agency look bad, Gregg later recalled Pike staffer 
Tina Yamomoto confiding in him. “We were trying to embarrass you,” 
Yamomoto told him, “and what we found was so different from what we 

expected that we were turned around by it ... As we came to know the 
Agency, it was the best outfit we’d ever seen. But the marching orders 
were to tear it apart.”’’ 

Other CIA officers agreed with Colby’s and Gregg’s assessments. 
Mitchell Rogovin, Colby’s Special Counsel, considered Pike a real 
prickly guy and a pain in the ass to deal with.” DO officer John Waller 
felt the Pike committee staffers were “a bunch of juveniles, a miserable 
bunch . . . frivolous as well as antagonistic and hostile and savage some- 
times.”'’! jconsidered them “flower children 

. sort of running barefoot down the halls, literally barefoot, oh 
occasion.” '* Agreeing with this view, DDI Edward Proctor confided to the 
author at the time that “a Pike committee staffer came to my office to in- 
terview me. She had on blue jeans that had been cut off at the calf and 
shredded, and she was barefoot. I told her to go home and put on her shoes 
and come back; then we could have our talk.”'’ In the view of DO officer 
Walter Elder, the committee’s staffers “were really irresponsible and 

goaded by some sort of drive to make trouble, and terribly inexperienced 
and naive.” Pike, he adds, “was almost a madman [who] ranted and 
raved.”™ And DDS&T Carl Duckett later recalled that the committee’s 
security officer “was a 23 -year-old young lady who had had no prior secu- 
rity experience. . . . She took classified waste home with her every night 
and disposed of it by throwing it down the incinerator chute in her apart- 

Colby’s rocky relationship with the Nedzi-Pike staff began even 
before the Pike committee was formed, when staff chief Searle Field pub- 

licly accused the Agency of having secretly infiltrated CIA officers into 

“Donald Gregg, conversation with Harold P. Ford, circa 1975. 

"Donald Gregg, interview by| |tape rec ording, Washington, DC. December 

1987 (hereafter cited as Gregg interview ny [ j l7 December 1987)^^gtf*en. 

‘“Rogovin interview b^[~^ ^1 December 1987. 

"Waller interview bvi II December 1987. 

'^Edward Proctor, conversation with Harold P. Ford, circa 1976. 
“"Elder interview byf |17 September 1987. 

“'Duckett interview by | ~| 4 January 1988. 




The Pike Committee 

sensitive positions in the White House. Colby at once told the press that 
this was “outrageous nonsense.”^ 

Meanwhile, in contrast to Congressman Nedzi’s glacierlike pace. 
Pike moved his troops out smartly once he had been named chairman. At 
the Select Committee's first hearing on 31 July US Comptroller Elmer B. 
Staats testified that his agency, the General Accounting Office (GAO), had 
no idea how much money the CIA spent or whether its management of that 
money was effective or wasteful, Chairman Pike then declared that the 
laws permitting secret budgeting for the CIA were unconstitutional “ At 
Colby’s first appearance before the Corninittee on 4 August he refused to 
testify publicly on the intelligence budget but offered to answer all ques- 
tions in executive session. Although Pike at once complained that CIA and 
the White House were withholding information essential to his committee, 
he did agree to a closed session.^'^ 

In the closed session that followed (on 6 August), Colby testified at 
length. He gave the Committee a general rundown of CIA financial poli- 
cies and procedures, termed “nonsense” the allegation that the CIA had 
secretly infiltrated other government agencies — ^this time charged by one of 
the committee’s members, Representative Robert Kasten (R-WI), and 
denied that CIA had tried to destabilize Allende’s* government in Chile. 
Colby did admit that NSA had occasionally monitored the overseas tele- 
phone conversations of Americans.^^ 

As the summer wore on, the Pike committee sought enormous 
amounts of material from CIA. It subpoenaed documents to learn what 
intelligence the Agency had given the White House concerning the 1973 

Washington Post, 10 July 1975. This created quite a public flap at the time. Colby later 
learned that Field had made this charge after seeing a sanitized version of a memorandum 
Colby had used to brief Congressman Nedzi; Field interpreted a phrase, “people were 
detailed,” to mean ‘‘people were tailed” (OLC Journal item, 9 July 1975, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center 
CIA Files). As Wait Elder later recounted this episode, he said to Nedzi, “Congressman, 
you’ve been in the military service; you know when you’re detailed what it means. Then 
Elder said, “Wait a minute. How old are your staffers?” Nedzi replied, and Elder said, 
“They* ve never had military service. Do me a favor. Go back and ask them what they under- 
stand by ‘detailed.’ He did and he came back and had this big grin on his face, just shaking 
his head sheepishly and he said, ‘They think it means to tail somebody.’” (Elder interview by 
I |17 September 1987). 

' "Articrc I, Section 9 of the US Constitution states that “a regular Statement and Account of 
the Receipts and Expenditures of all public monies shaU be published from time to time. 
■'‘Here, at the outset of its existence, Pike’s group displayed the obduracy that would mark its 
entire life: rather than negotiate for desired documents, as the Senate’s Church committee 
was doing at the time, the Pike committee voted unanimously, 5 August, to subpoena certain 
desired data from the executive branch. 

“An insight into Pike’s chairmanship at this juncture: Colby’s Special Counsel, ^^tchell 
Rogovin, recorded that, with respect to a recent letter the chairman had sent CIA, I spoke 
with [staff chief] Searle Field this afternoon and he assures me that the letter was written last 
Friday ‘in a drunken stupor’” (Rogovin, Memorandum for Chief, CIA Review Staff, 
11 August 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives 
and Records Center 

William E. Colby 


Arab-Israeli war, the Viet Cong’s 1968 Tet offensive, the Turkish invasion 
of Crete, and the 1974 military coup in Portugal. In so doing, the commit- 
tee insisted that it had the authority to declassify 

i jtiis particularly erratic conduct on the part ot the committee pro- 
voked an immediate, strong response from the White House and placed 
Pike on a collision course with the executive branch. On 12 September, 
President Ford ordered that Pike’s committee be cut off from all classified 
documents and forbade administration officials to testify before that panel. 
On behalf of the President, Assistant Attorney General Rex Lee read a 
statement to Chairman Pike that held that: 

The President’s responsibilities for the national security and foreign relations 
of the United States leave him no alternative but to direct all departments 
and agencies of the Executive Branch respectfully to decline to provide the 
Select Committee with classified materials, including testimony and inter- 
views which disclose such materials, until the Committee satisfactorily alters 
its position.^’ 

Paralleling this White House toughness, Colby held a press confer- 
ence the same day, 12 September, at which he warned that the disclosure of 
the highly sensitive four words would have a “grave” effect on US intelli- 
gence capabilities. Meanwhile, Colby’s Review Staff (which handled the 
Congressional committees’ requests for documents), in a report to him of 
22 September, characterized the House group’s requests as “siUy,” its staff 
as ignorant of the Agency, and its requested deadlines as laughably impos- 
sible.^® Expanding on this latter point, the Review Staff pointed out that a 
Pike committee request on 4 August included among its desired 11 items the 

• A list of the total (aggregate) value of all of the [CIA] proprietaries as 
of each of the years since the Agency was founded. 

• A list of all compartments established for security reasons, ranked so 
as to indicate which compartments are within other compartments, 
and indicating what kind of operation is hidden by the compartment. 

-j ~~~ jjhiet. Review Statt, Memorandum xor WiUiam Uoiby, Director of Central 

intelUgence, “'M^rial for Intelligence Coordinating Group,” 22 September 1975, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 33, CIA Archives and Records Center 

The Pike Committee 

® All memos to the Comptroller, from the components in the Agency, 
about ‘‘reprogramming” and “notices of eminent (sic) action.” 

A note at the end of this letter said, “Today, if possible.”"^ 

Despite the displeasure of the White House and Colby, the Pike com- 
mittee did not budge from the position that it had the right unilaterally to 
declassify any executive pleased. On 25 September, it went so 
far as to charge that the White House was in “contempt of Congress” for 
refusing to provide the classified information the committee had re- 
quested.^® The next day, the President and Secretary of State Kissinger 
met with House leaders to work out some solution to the standoff, but to no 
avail. On the 28 September CBS-TV “Face the Nation” program, Pike 
repeated his earlier claim that the House had the right to declassify docu- 
ments. He charged that US security agencies had become unwieldy 
bureaucracies, so “drowning in information” that they could not absorb 
intelligence and might not be able to warn the country in advance of an 
unexpected. attack. 

Although Pike continued to make heavy demands on Colby for sensi- 
tive CIA documents, despite President Ford’s 12 September ban, Pike on 
1 October finally accepted a compromise arrangement that Colby suggested 
and to which the President, committee members, and other members of 
Congress all agreed. This agreement in essence provided that the commit- 
tee would not publish classified material without first giving the 
Intelligence Community an opportunity to review it. If there was any 
disagreement with respect to publication, the material would be referred to 
the President; if the President certified in writing that publication would be 
detrimental to the national security, the material would not be published. 
This agreement also provided for a judicial review, should the committee 
wish to contest the President’s determination.^' 

Despite this agreement — and the opportunity it afforded Pike to 
proceed more responsibly — the committee continued to leak sensitive 
intelligence to the media. One of the most egregious leaks revealed that the 
panel had been examining the very highly classified question of US use of 
specially equipped submarines, manned by both Navy and intelligence 
agency personnel, to gather photographic, electronic, and other kinds of 
intelligence. Journalist John Crewdson wrote that his sources had con- 
firmed that “some of these missions have been conducted within the 
12-mile ocean frontier claimed by the Soviet Union.” “On occasion,” he 


^The New York Times, 26 September 1975. On Pike’s charge, journalist David Binder wrote 
that were an administration official found to be in contempt by the House, its Sergeant at 
Arms would hypothetically “be empowered to arrest the official and confine him in the 
Capitol basement” (The Washington Post, 28 September 1975). 

*'ln Rogovin, testimony to Uk House coinmittee on Standards of Official Conduct, 27 July 1976, 
CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records 


' William E. Colby 

continued, “submarines have escaped, sometimes narrowly, after colliding 
with hostile vessels and, in at least one case, running aground off the 
Soviet coast 

The WJiite House was enraged all the more the next day, 30 October, 
when James Gardner, a State Department officer, told the committee that, 
between April 1972 and December .1974, the administration’s secret 
40 Committee had approved some 40 covert operations without actually 
holding a meeting, having made their decisions by telephone.” Gardner 
gave the committee the distinct impression that Kissinger had not bothered 
to get the President’s approval for any but the most sensitive covert opera- 
tions. Kissinger contradicted Gardner’s testimony the next day, 31 October, 
assuring the committee that for years the President had personally ap- 
proved every clandestine operation undertaken by US agents.^* The Pike 
committee seized on these contradictory testimonies to complain that 
Kissinger had withheld certain sensitive, but uncongenial, intelligence 
items that legitimately should have been shared with other officers. Colby 
and CIA supported this charge, supplying the committee with documents 
that detailed earlier protests the Agency had made to the White House that 
Kissinger had held back intelligence on possible Soviet violations of the 
1972 accords.” 

Testifying for the last time before the Pike committee on 
12 December, Colby stoutly defended the need for selected covert opera- 
tions and warned that the United States would be in d^ger if the revela- 
tions of CIA misdeeds should lead to a crippling of the US intelligence 
Community. “I hope in the 1990s,” he said, “that we will not look back at 
1975 and marvel at the naivete of the Americans of 1975 as we now mar- 
vel at the naivete of those in the 1920s.” In unusually strong language for 
this generally soft-spoken DCI, Colby accused Congressman Pike of 
“frightening people” by saying that American intelligence was incapable 
of predicting an attack on the United States.” 

Finally, on 19-20 December the committee reneged on its commit- 
ments to the President by voting to unilaterally declassify and publish 
materials documenting earlier sensitive US covert operations in Angola and 
Italy. Colby immediately prepared a draft letter for the President to send to 

^^The New York Times, 29 October 1975. 

New York Times, 31 October 1975. 

^^The Washington Post, 1 November 1975. In the view of journalist George Lardner, this tes- 
timony of Kissinger’s "‘demolished the theory of ‘plausible deniability’ that has so often 
served to insulate Presidents from past disclosures.” Lardner added that, in this outing with 
the Pike group, Kissinger had encountered “some of the roughest questioning he has ever 
faced on Capitol Hill” (The Washington Post, 1 November 1975). 

^^The Washington Post, 10 and 17 December 1975; The New York Times, 3 December 1975. 
This was an understandable (and legitimate) complaint for Colby to make, especially since by 
this time he knew that he was being replaced as DCI and, consequently, would not have to be 
overly concerned with the formidable Dr. Kissinger’s reaction. 

^^The Baltimore Sun, 13 December 1975. 



The Pike Committee 


Pike. Strongly protesting the committee’s action, Colby urged Ford to cer- 
tify “that you oppose these public disclosures as detrimental to the national 

The strains between the committee and the executive branch rose dra- 
matically three days later, on 23 December, when news arrived that ter- 
rorists had murdered Richard Welch, CIA’s Chief of Station in Athens. 
Colby at once sent House Speaker Carl Albert a sharp letter citing the 
DCI’s statutory responsibility “for protecting intelligence sources and 
methods from unauthorized disclosure.” Colby told the Speaker that he 
was “greatly concerned” about the extent to which the DCI should con- 
tinue to provide committees of Congress with sensitive information, 
adding — in an obvious reference to the Pike committee — that he was 
“equally concerned with respect to such information already in the custody 
of various committees of the Congress.”^* 

Welch’s murder definitely strengthened Colby’s hand in his battle 
with the PDce committee. On 15 January 1976, President Ford finally ac- 
cepted Colby’s 20 December recommendation that the White House not ap- 
prove release of the Pike commmittee’s report. The President told Pike 
that, in accordance with their earlier agreement on clearance procedures, 
“the publication at this time of these documents would be detrimental to 
the national security.” Mr. Ford added that the documents and the tes- 
timony the committee had received on these issues made it possible for it 
to draw up an informed, final report, “without revealing the existence of, 
or details concerning, programs that should, in the national interest, remain 
unacknowledged. ” 

On 19 January 1976, the Pike committee sent Colby the first draft of 
its fmal report, some 338 pages, requesting immediate CIA review and ap- 
proval. Mitchell Rogovin at once sent Pike a negative response. Noting that 
the committee had been in a position to prepare a thorough report that 
would give the American public “the first real opportunity” to learn about 
intelligence, Rogovin observed that, although CIA had anticipated some 
critical comment, it had not expected a “total lack of balance.” To 
Rogovin, the report appeared to be an unrelenting indictment couched in 
biased, pejorative, and factually erroneous terms, which in the end would 
“severely limit the report’s impact, credibility and the important work of 
your Committee.”'^ 

^William Colby, Director of Central Intelligence, letter to White House Counselor John 
Marsh (with attachments), 20 December 1975, CIA Histo^ Staff records, job 90B00336R, 
box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center 

“William Colby, Director of Central Intelligence, letter to Speaker’ Carl Albert, 24 December 
1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and 
Records Center (Unclassified). 

“President Gerald Ford, letter to Chairman Otis Pike, 15 January 1976, aA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified), 
^^itchell Rogovin, letter to Chairman Otis Pike, 20 January 1976, CIA History Staff records, 
job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 





The Pike Committee 

The day after CIA received the Pike committee’s draft report, por- 
tioas of it appeared in The New York Times, directly violating assurances 
the committee had given Colby and the President. According to the Times, 
the committee’s report not only mentioned the US Navy’s submarine intel- 
ligence operations, but also criticized the Agency’s past performance in 
such places as Angola, Cyprus, and Kurdish Iraq-Iran, and in such situa- 
tions as the USSR’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, the 1973 Middle 
East war, and the 1974 coup in Portugal. CIA’s accounting arrangements 
with the Office of Management and Budget also drew fire, as did alleged 
CIA expeditures “to provide kings with female compamons and to pay 
people with questionable reputations to make pornographic movies for 

Following these disclosures, Colby made numerous attempts to 
deflect the committee’s rush to publish its full report. The committee 
ignored his efforts, however, and, on 23 January 1976, voted 9 to 7 to 
release its report to the public. 

Three days later, on 26 January, Colby called another press confer- 
ence, his last before turning over his DCI responsibilities to George Bush. 
At this conference, Colby denounced the Pike committee for neither keep- 
ing its secrets nor abiding by its pledges to the executive branch. Colby 
termed its draft report “totally biased and a disservice to our nation, giving 
a thoroughly wrong impression of American intelligence.” He charged 
that, by selective use of the evidence, as well as by innuendo and sugges- 
tive language, the report implied that intelligence had deceptive budgets, 
had no accountability, and had not complied with one direct order of a 
President. Colby flatly denied the committee’s charges.'^^ 

In the end, however, the Pike committee did not prevail. On 
28 January, two days after Colby’s press conference, the House of 
Representatives took the unprecedented action of killing one of its own 
committee’s reports. Following a 9-to-7 vote by the House Rules 
Committee against allowing the report to be published, the full House sup- 
ported that decision by a wide margin, 246 to 124, 

At this same juncture, CIA and the Pike committee exchanged their 
last broadsides, ending their relations on a very sjour note. On 27 January, 
Rogovin sent the committee a scorching letter refuting a claim by commit- 
tee staff chief Field that the administration had leaked the Pike report to the 
press. Rogovin, calling attention to the fact that The New York Times had 
stated that its excerpts were based directly on sources within the commit- 
tee, accused Pike’s staff of having stolen a copy , of the [Ted Shackley] 
memorandum outlining the sensitive meeting of CIA officers with Senator 
"Scoop" Jackson in May 1973, which had concerned Senator Church’s 

'"John Crewdson, in The Neyv York Times ^ 20 January 1976. 

■*^NBC television “Nightly News,” 26 January 1976. 




William E. Colby 


probe of ITT, CIA, and Chile.'^" Said Rogovin: “A copy of that memoran: 
dum is missing from a set of files to which one of your staffers had access 
[at CIA Headquarters] in early December. We suggest that you may wish to 
determine for yourself how your staff procured the document and how the 
report was leaked to the press, The committee s staff director, A. Searle 
Field, responded with equal vigor, accusing Colby of having broken the 
earlier committee— Cl A—White House agreertient on prior review, and 
of having used “innuendo without facts.” Field closed his letter with this 
needle: that he believed the author of The New York Times article on the 
committee’s report, John Crewdson, “to be an honorable man, not in the 
employ of the CIA.”'*^ 

This last exchange with the Pike committee heralded the end of 
Colby’s tenure as DCI. At the 30 January swearing in of the new DCI, 
George Bush, Otis Pike was invited but did not attend, while Senate 
Chairman Frank Church was not invited.'"^ 

Retrospect on the Pike Committee 

Chairman Pike expressed his regret that his committee s report had 
been leaked to the press, explaining that, because his colleagues on the 
committee had assumed the report would become public, they had made 
“no effort to maintain tight security,” In fact, in his view the leaking of the 
report “distracted all eyes” from what the committee was trying to accom- 
plish and created “a disaster.” Pike remained convinced, however, that 
unlike the Church committee, his group had asked the right question: Is US 
intelligence any good? And his committee’s answer, he ^ New York 
Times interviewer, was that CIA had done a “lousy job.”'*^ 

Some of the committee’s efforts had merit Pike and his colleagues 
did raise some of the right questions. Many of the issues they addressed 
were more relevant to the central purposes of intelligence than was the 
Senate Church committee’s pursuit of headlines. The Pike group s exami- 
nation of the accuracy of past intelligence analyses and estimates was a 
wholly legitimate initiative. And, in the end, the committee disagreed with 
Senator Church’s early charge that the CIA was a rogue elephant The final 
Pike report (as leaked to the Village Voice) held that “all evidence in hand 
suggests that the CIA, far from being out of control, has been utterly 
responsive to the instructions of the President and the Assistant to the 

‘‘^Discussed in chapter 8, above. 

“Mitchell Rogovin, letter to Chairman Otis Pike, 27 January 1976, CIA History Staff records, 
job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 

“^A. Searle Field, letter to Mitchell Rogovin, 28 January 1976, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassified). 

“According to journalist Laurence Stem, The Washington Post, 31 January 1976. 

"’Shirley Elder interview of Otis Pike, as quoted in The New York Times, 10 October 1975. 





The Pike Committee 

President for National Security Affairs.” According to CIA’s John WaUer, 
Pike was in effect accusing CIA of “being a supine elephant, not a rogue 

It was the Pike committee’s irresponsible pursuit of these aims that 
caused its investigation to crash, and the House of Representatives’ pur- 
poses to be left unfulfilled. The committee could have made useful contri- 
butions had it gone about its work constructively. The trouble was that the 
committee entered upon its examination of the Intelligence Community’s 
analyses and estimates, as indeed it did with its entire scrutiny of US intel- 
ligence, with fiercely held preconceptions that the Intelligence Community, 
the CIA in particular, was no damn good. Pike and his colleagues made lit- 
tle effort to examine issues in perspective or to point out positive aspects of 
US intelligence. His committee gave Colby and the Agency little if any 
aedit for having themselves already corrected most of the alleged past ille- 
galities. Pike’s committee squandered an opportunity to show up its rival 
Senate investigative group and, more important, to advance the cause of 
more thorough Congressional oversight of US intelligence. That oversight 
eventually evolved in later years, we owe to the more constructive maimer 
in which the subsequent permanent intelligence committees of the House 
and the Senate behaved. But this occurred despite, not because of, the work 
of the Pike and Church committees, those two efforts clearly damaged US 
intelligence, as well as American public regard for intelligence. 

What is less clear is why Mr. Pike’s group behaved as it did. The 
many examples of erratic conduct by the committee and its chairman re- 
main mysteries that available documentation and interviews do not clearly 
illuminate. There is no mystery, however, about why the Pike committee 
suffered such setbacks in its final months. Some of these difficulties were 
self-inflicted; others, the result of outside developments. Pike’s failure to 
allow the President and CIA to review his report in advance discredited 
him in the eyes of a substantial number of Congressmen. His committee’s 
irresponsible behavior had a similar effect on pubbc opinion, which had 
already begun to sour on the Church committee’s headline hunting — 
especially because of Senator Church’s announcement that he was, after all, 
going to run for president. The murder of CIA’s Richard Welch — and the 
way in which Colby and President Ford dramatized that tragedy to the 
benefit of US intelligence — hardened opinion against overzealous 
Congressional probes. In addition, knowledge that the President had begun 
work on an Executive order on intelligence (which we discuss in the next 
chapter) to some degree beat Congress to the punch in prescribing reforms 
for CIA and the Intelligence Community. Nevertheless, the House’s 
immediate reason for rejecting the Pike report almost certainly stemmed 

**John WaUer, “The Myth of the Rogue Elephant Interred,” Studies in Intelligence 22 
(summer 1978): p. 2 (Sgpftfef 



William E. Colby 

from its unauthorized appearance, this time in its entirety, in the 25 January 
New York Times. Not only did this version of the report contain materials 
not included in the prior drafts shown CIA, but it also contained a com- 
mittee finding that, in 1973, Senator Henry Jackson had secretly advised 
the CIA on how to protect itself from an investigation by Senator Frank 
Church (discussed in chapter 8, above)/’ 

Even though CIA’s relationships with the Pike committee were more 
acrimonious than those with the Church committee the House’s inquiry 
was not as personally injurious to Colby. At the end, the Pike committee’s 
erratic conduct, especially in leaking its report to the press, clearly worked 
to Colby’s advantage. But by that time, the Church committee’s sensational 
TV hearings, its emphases on assassination, dart guns, and other alleged 
CIA illegalities, had heavily influenced the public’s image of the CIA. 

Whether one is a supporter or critic of Colby’s greater openness with 
Congress, it is difficult to fault him for the manner in which he dealt with 
the Pike committee. Colby was tough and forthright throughout. He was 
responsive to legitimate requests but staunchly protected intelligence 
sources and methods. Finally, his handling of the Pike committee is the 
more notable because it did not take place in a vacuum, but amidst heavy 
requirements not only from the Rockefeller and Church investigations, but 
also from other intelligence demands, worldwide. 

^’John Crewdson, The New York Times^ 26 January 1976; Mitchell Rogovin testimony to the 
House committee on Standards of Official Conduct, 9 March and 27 July 1976, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center. Shortly 
after Colby left office, journalist Daniel Schorr gave a copy of the leaked Pike report to the 
Village Voice, which published it in full on 16 February 1976 under the title, “The Report on 
the CIA that President Ford Doesn’t Want You To Read.” Later, Mitchell Rogovin testified 
that that text of the Pike report contained some 88 differences from the version the committee 
had provided the CIA for review in January (as above) (Rogovin, testimony to the House 
Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, 27 July 1976, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 3, folder 39, CIA Archives and Records Center In 1977, 

Spokesman Books published the Village Voice*s version of the Pike committee’s report; that 
edition contains an introduction by Philip Agee. 



Chapter 12 

Other Slings and Arrows of 1975 

Already under heavy fire from the Rockefeller, Churchy and Pike 
investigations, Colby was hit by a barrage of other demands throughout the 
last year of his DCI incumbency. Many of these were probes by 
ot er Congressional figures, the most trying of which was that of 
Congresswoman Bella Abzug. Still other demands resulted from routine 
DCI responsibilities, followups to Schlesinger and Colby initiatives or par- 
ticulM world developments that pushed CIA and US intelligence to the 

Colby and Bella Abzug 

Interviewer: What was your low point in the Congressional hearings? 
Colby: Bella Abzug. 

Colby, March 1988' 

I really got sore. I told her we were not having a reasonable discussion I 
also told her *at if she visited such [tenorist] people abroad, such enemies 
ot the United States, there was no way that I was going to keep her name out 
ot our records. Also, she was one of the last delegations to visit South 
Viernam, where she was rude to the GVN officials and spent all her time 
With opposition groups. 

Colby, August 1988^ 

Colby’s relationships with Bella Abzug, and with the Subcommittee 
on Government Information and Individual Rights, House Government 
(^erations Committee, that she chaired, were even more acrimonious than 
those with the Pike committee. The friction began in January 1975 when 
the House Government Operations Committee asked Colby to testify on its 
upcoming Privacy Act bUl. Chairman William S. Moorhead (D-PA) was 

^Colby interview by 15 March 1988. 

Colby interview by ^ord, 9 August 1988. 

William E. Colby 

sympathetic to CIA’s purposes and its need for secrecy. Not so 
Congresswoman Abzug, who — despite Colby’s assurances to the 
contrary — charged that the Agency was continuing to launch activities 
against domestic “peace groups,” destroy files it improperly held on 
American citizens, illegally open US mails, and conduct other illicit 
activities within the United States. She also wished to investigate allega- 
tions that the CIA had had drug ties in Thailand to one Phuttaphon 
K-hramkhruan — ^ties she believed should be made public,- whatever Colby’s 
responsibilities were for protecting intelligence sources and methods. 
Congresswoman Abzug ’s chief grievance against the CIA, however, was 
that it had maintained surveillance over certain of her own activities 

Colby suggested that Abzug take her complaints to Congressman 
Lucien Nedzi, soon to become chairman of the House Select Committee on 
Intelligence, and sit in on the hearings of that group.^ Not satisfied with 
Colby’s response, she proceeded to conduct her own probes of CIA activi- 
ties — which gave Colby a bad time for months.'^ Weeks and weeks of spar- 
ring ensued between her subcommittee and CIA, complete with repeated 
requests for sensitive Agency documents, often with overnight deadlines. 
After first checking with White House Counsels John Marsh and Philip 
Buchen, Colby gave her only certain of these documents. His action 
evoked a complaint in October 1975 from Representative Jack Brooks 
(D-TX), who had succeeded William S. Moorhead as chairman of the 
House Committee on Government Operations, that such partial compliance 
was “offensive to the dignity of a member of Congress.”^ 

Colby appeared twice before Abzug’s subcommittee, on 5 March and 
25 June. At the first of these outings, as he later recalled: 

I went down there and we spent the whole goddanm day. She was outraged 
that we had her name in our files. I finally said, “Mrs. Chairman, if you go 
visit the headquarters of a foreign group whose soldiers are shooting our 
soldiers and vice versa, there is no way I am going to keep your name out of 
the CIA files, no way. And that is why we have your name in the files be- 
cause you went to see the PRG headquarters in Paris or associated with other 
people abroad.”* 

] ~~ I Assistant Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for Che Record, “Meeting 

oi tne iJirecior with Unairman William S. Moorhead (D-PA) and ocher members of the House 
Government Operations Committee regarding Privacy Act of 1974,” 23 January 1975, CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 45, CIA Archives and Records Center 

3ne of the members of Abzug’s subcommittee was Congressman Michael Harrington who, it 
will be recalled, was then bringing suit against the CIA, charging that it had exceeded its 
statutory authority by undertaking illicit surveillance activities. In the end, on 3 July 1975, 
the court dismissed his suit for lack of standing and as a nonjustifiable political question. 

I" [Deputy Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Conversation With 

unairman Jack Brooks, House Government Operations Committee, re Phuttaphon 
Khrarnkhruan Material,” 6 October 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, 
folder 45, CIA Arc hives and Records Center < 

®CoIby interview byl ll5 March 1988. 

Other Slings and Arrows 

At his second appearance before her subcommittee, Colby told 
Abzug that, because of the DCI’s responsibilities to protect intelligence 
sources and methods, it was essential that the Agency be exempted from 
the pubUc disclosme obligations of the Privacy Act. And, on a later occa- 
sion, after CIA’s Deputy Legislative Counsel, | I had explained 

the Agency’s need to delete sensitive names and details from documents 
provi^ her subcommittee, she angrily charged that this was an affront to 
her dignity and an infringement on h er absolu te right to information as a 
member of Congress. According to | ~| “Abzug’s forceful counter 
added up to the Agency being an illegal monster, and I told her I personally 
and offici^y resented that characterization. ... I also told her that, if my 
presence in the room was offensive to her, perhaps we could make other 
aiTMgements.” When she responded that she had the right to bring in- 
dividua ls befor e her subcommittee whose identities the CIA was trying to 
protect, I ~] told her he could not believe that she would nnde rtaVp an 
action that would compromise the identity of an Agency employee serving 
under unofficial cover in a foreign state. She told] |“not to be so sure 
on that score.”’ In the end, Colby prevailed on this issue: Chairman Jack 
Brooks reluctantly accepted a compromise arrangement, and the DCI 
provided Mrs. Abzug’s subcommittee the documents it wanted but with 
sensitive details deleted. 

Other Congressional Investigations 

By mid-1975, appearances on the Hill had become a pervasive aspect of my 
job as DCI, and I was going up there to report on every new step taken in the 
Angola, Kurdish, and other covert operations under way as well as testifying 
on practically everything the CIA had ever done during the last three decades 
to the Select Committees investigating intelligence. Sadly, the experience 
demonstrated that secrets, if they are to remain secret, cannot be given to 
more than a few Congressmen — every new project subjected to this proce- 
dure during 1975 leaked and the “covert” part of CIA’s covert action 
seemed almost gone. 

Colby, 1978* 

In addition to the Abzug, Church, and Pike investigations, and over 
and above Congressional concerns with routine intelligence matters, the 
Agency was the target of still other Capitol Hill probes. During 1975 , 
Colby appeared before seven additional cominittees or subcommittees of 

] Deputy Legislative Counsel, Memorandum for the Record, “Meeting With 

eprcsentative Bella Abzug (D-NY) re Phuttaphon Khrarakhnian,” 7 October 1975 CIA 
History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 45, QA Archives and Records Center 

Colby, Honorable Men, p, 423. 


William E, Colby 

the Senate and four of the House. These probes covered a wide ranue of 

arilT experimentation, CIA use of mission- 

anes ^intelligence sources, and new Congressional oversight proposals 
Meanwhile, many other worldwide demands pressed in on ^ and 
So th principal issues were Angola, the fall of 



opSon to the Ss''' accommodation with rather thin 

CIA Summary of Meeting With Senator Dick Clark (D-IA), October 1975’ 




‘^William Colby, DCI, letter to Senator John Sparkman, 10 November 1975, CIA History 
Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 46, CIA Archives and Records Center (Unclassi- 



William E. Colby 

hn — 1 11/1 1 r V I'lri — r—«( — » i-~z: — 

Sbume~^ULtia rwTh 77 \ 

II \ji_i ly l-/eCcniDer LQ6 

^ 1 xr. % n ^ 

auamonai tunas tor Savimbi and 
Roberto, and, on 27 Janua^ 1976, the House of Representatives, brushing 
aside President Ford’s last-minute plea, voted 323 to 99 to cut off all 
further aid to these Angolan groups. Having backed a losing cause, Colby 
sustained yet another personal setback. ^ 

The Fail of South Vietnam 

H before Vietnam. 

But It cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished. 

President Gerald Ford, April 1975''^ 

The logistics of evacuation in Vietnam were staggering. The Dotential 
victims of a Communist takeover numbered, ifaddlon to sTx CS 

thousand Vietnmese now or formerly em- 
ployed by vanous Amencan agencies— who, with their kin, swelled the total 
to nearly a million. ... The imminent danger was that frenzied government 

Stanley Kamow, 1983” 

Over and above the other problems that swamped Colby in his last 
y» as DCI, he face.! fts sudden codapse of Soud, Wenji 'S 
^atest mihtary/foreign policy defeat in US history. In the last weeks of 
the Saigon government’s Ufe— from its armies’ collapse in the face of the 
major enemy offensive that began on 1 March 1975, to the Communist for- 
ces enhy into Smgon on 30 April-Colby’s responsibiUties were many 
and demanding. He, gave US policymakers estimates concerning enemy 

'‘Wilham Colby, DCI. Me moranduni for Brent Smw.-rr.ft a-.:-.— 

National Security Affairs, '' 

to the President for 
8 December 1975, 

-r/J nrrrrxxwixi iViemOrandUm for Henrv 

^ecre tary^ f State, "Angola Special Report No. 4,” 24 December 1975, r^7u iftTr 

William Colby, DCI, Memorandum for Henry Kissinger 
Reports on Angolan Operations,- 12 December 

fo^r History Staff records. joT9^^^Rb^3 

tolder 46, CIA Archives and Records Center. ’ 

^ J“»ane University, as cited in The Washington Post^ 24 April 1975 
Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History (New York: Viking, 1983), pp. 666-667, 


Other Slings and Arrows 

capabilities and intentions. He was one of the major actors in the hectic US 
policy counsels (Washington Special Action Group) of those weeks and he 
rejected a suggestion that the United States permit a last-moment, dissident 
coup attempt to oust South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu.” 
Colby oversaw emergency efforts to evacuate Agency officers and great 
numbers of Vietnamese whose CIA connections gave them scant hope of 
survival m the wake of a Communist victory. “Viemarn kept me terribly 
busy at that time,” Colby later recalled. “I spent most of April in WSAG 
meetings, talking about estimates of the situation, and evacuation plan- 
ning. These, of course, were the same weeks in which the Rockefeller 
and Church investigations were pressing Colby and the CIA. 

By comparison with other US intelligence and policymaking ofS- 
cials, Colby did a relatively good job of estimating enemy capabilities and 
intentions, even though the initial intelligence estimates produced under his 
mrection in early 1975 proved clearly overoptimistic.'^' At first, Colby 
shared those views, but, in the last four weeks of South Vietnam’s life, he 
became more pessimistic about Saigon’s fate than most other US prin- 
cipals. Except for Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger and CIA’s ana- 
lytic offices, Colby was pretty much alone in voicing such dark estimates. 

y contrast, almost to the very end, much more optimistic expectations 
were held by the Department of State, DIA, Ambassador Graham Martin in 
Smgon, CIA’s Saigon Chief of Station (COS) Polgar, and the chief of CIA’s 
( O) Far East Division, Ted Shackley (himself a former Saigon COS). 
Most important, however. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger held over- 
opnmstic views until the very last. For example, on 10 April he rejected 
olby s recommendation to accelerate the withdrawal of Americans and 
high risk” Vietnamese. And, as late as 27 April, one day before the 
enemy began lobbing rockets into Saigon, and only three days before 
«gon fell, Kissinger overrode arguments by Colby and others (at a 
WSAG meeting presided over by President Ford) to begin emergency 
evacuation by helicopters. One of the primary causes of Kissinger’s 
optimism was a confidence widely shared in Washington and in the US 

Thomas Polgar asked CIA Headquarters to consider the possibil- 
ity rtat Prestdcnt Thieu might have to be removed if there were to be any hoprof the 

settlement with a new South Vietnamese Government. 

Sr rr^ * f away like poison from anything Uke 

wat (Colby interview by Ford, 9 August 1988). ^ 

^ Colby interview by Ford, 9 August 1988. 

For example, even after the Government of South Vietnam (GVN) militai 7 position in MR 
Naf’ ^ ^ collapsed and thousands of refugees were streaming south, a Special 

Wa lonal l^nteUigence Estimate of 27 March held that, although the loss of large parts of 
1 1 ^®SJons I and II might prove permanent. South Vietnamese forces were strong 
new defense line north of Saigon that the South Vietnamese high com- 
nd had m mind; and that the enemy offensive would in any event soon be slowed by im- 
53/14.3-75, Assessment of Situation in South Vietnam, 27 March 

William E. Colby 

Embassy in Saigon that Democratic Republic of Vietnam- Viet Cong 
(DRV- VC) forces did not intend to launch an all-out military assault on 
Saigon but were willing to work out a negotiated settlement, provided the 
GVN first installed a new “peace” government Kissinger and others who 
subscribed to such views beheved that much more time was available to 
arrange an orderly withdrawal from Vietnam than was, in fact, the case. 

-/aie m me game, :>oviet tienerai Secretary 
'jjioziuicv aibo gave wasmugrcm somewhat similar assurances. As events 
turned out, Communist Vietnamese forces overran Saigon on 30 April.^^ 

Colby briefing White House senior policymakers on situation in South 
Vietnam, April 1975, Clockwise: Colby, Deputy Secretary of State Robert 
Ingersoll, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Gerald Ford, 
Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, Deputy Secretary of Defense 
William Clements, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Chairman of the JCS 
Gen. George Brown. 

^’The ICC in Vietnam included India, Hungary, Poland, and Canada. 

“On 23 April 1975, Brezhnev sent a note to President Ford stating that the North 
Vietnam- Viet Cong side had no intention of posing obstacles to an American evacuation and 
no desire to humiliate Washington, 

Other Slings and Arrows 


Washington’s spotty intelligence performance was not confined to the 
period before the fall of Saigon. During the weeks immediately thereafter, 
various senior American officials — including Colby — sought to put the 
best face on Washington’s estimative record and on the field’s success in 
evacuating US and US-related Vietnamese. 

The Glomar Explorer 

In 1979, 1 |the Glomar Explorer’s Deputy 

Mission Director, described the situation in March 1975, after news leaks 
about CIA’s Glomar Explorer’s earlier secret effort to raise a sunken Soviet 
submarine from the depths of the Pacific. The ship, he observed: 

Was soon a fortress as local, regional and national news people poured into 
the Long Beach area. . . . Reporters frequented the Long Beach bars and 
tried all the arts and tricks of their trade to find knowledgeable sources and 
persuade them to talk. Waterfront hangers on were plied with drinks and 
prostitutes were enlisted in attempts to buy crew lists. Crew members were 
pestered, badgered and propositioned. ... A few days prior to departure, 
the tax assessor of Los Angeles County slapped a tax lien on the ship for 
$4,685,882.07. He had in effect seized the vessel and was going to put it up 
for sale at public auction on 27 August.^^ 

The ragged culmination of the Glomar Explorer operation, project 
AZORIAN, was yet another of Colby’s many headaches in 1975. This 
imaginative, ambitious, and very expensive intelligence collection effort 
had begun years before, occasioned by the USSR’s loss in the Pacific of 
one of its G-11 class ballistic submarines (to unknown causes) on 11 March 
1968, some 1,560 miles northwest of Hawaii. This project was already 
under way when Colby came to office. In fact, when he was sworn in as 
DCI in September 1973, the Glomar Explorer was transiting the Strait of 
Magellan at the tip of South America, en route to California, A year later, 
in August 1974, Colby and project AZORIAN’s managers got the heart- 
breaking news that portion of the Soviet submarine had broken off 

during final efforts to raise it.^^ 

I I lr *Securitv: Hidden Sh ield for Project AZORIAN,” Studies in 

intelligence 23 (winter 1 979): pp. 47-49 (Sfciad j Iwas the Glomar Rvn]n r>-r>. 

Deputy Mission Directoij 

Throughout, Colby delcga tefl me opcranonai qirection or the oroiect to i r<t 

managers. Looking back, | 

AZORIAN’s Mission Director, noted his extreme gratitude for the advice and confidence he 
received from DCI William Colby, who had assured him that **the Mission Director . , . was 
to use his own good judgment in critical situations as long as he was adherin g to the basic 
guidelines of the directives and plans that governed the operation.’j hsoorts that he 

this adWee “gratefully and literally” ! ^^^^T Proiect 

AZORIAN; The Story..Qf the. Hughes Glomar Explorer,” Studies m intelligence 22 Fautumn 
1978]: p. 48 | | h ad been members of the AZORIAN operation). 


William E. Colby 


Glomar Explorer 

Colby centered most of his efforts on trying to keep this sensitive 
operation from being blown and on planning a second effort to raise the 
rest of the submarine. The problem of security leaks had begun in 
California in June 1974, when thieves had stolen documents from one of 
Howard Hughes’s safes, some of which tied Hughes to CIA and the 
Glomar Explorer. The thief (or thieves) thereupon peddled this hot infor- 
mation to the media. 

In early 1975, in the troubled setting created by Hersh’s sensational 
charges against the ClA, Colby had to dissuade members of the media who 
had learned at least some details of AZORIAN from making the story pub- 
lic.^^ The first leak was printed by The Los Angeles Times in February 
1975. “We briefed the Los Angeles Police Department on this,” Colby 
recalls, “asking them to hold the line for us, but I think it was they who 
leaked the story to The L. A, Times The Times account was a garbled 
one, stating that CIA had attempted to recover a Soviet submarine from the 
depths of the Atlantic Ocean with a special ship Howard Hughes had built 
with US Government money. A few weeks later, on 18 March 1975, 
columnist Jack Anderson went on national television with a savage treat- 
ment of this project. According to Jack Anderson, CIA Director Colby 

^'TR.ecall that Seymour Hersh was one of those who had gotten word of AZORIAN, but had 
sat on the story at Colby’s request — one of the main reasons Colby gave for having agreed to 
let Hersh interview him in December 1974. 

”Colby interview by Ford, 9 August 1988. 



Other Slings and Arrows 

‘ made a personal appeal to us [Anderson] not to publish the story.” But 
^derson said he went ahead and broadcast the report anyway because 
Navy experts have told us that the sunken sub contains no real secrets and 
that the project, therefore, is a waste of the taxpayers’ money.” Anderson 
also said Colby’s attempt to stop the report grew out of a motive “to cover 
up a $350 milH on blunder.”^^ Soon thereafter The New Ynrlr Ty^^c o 
^.■ ggnnnd .^ account, 

p was these revelations by The Los Angeles Times, Jack Anderson 
and The New York Times that let loose the circus-like developments at the 
Glomar Explorer’s berth in Long Beach. These leaks, along with charges 
that the intelligence gained from AZORIAN had not been worth its great 
expense, played a major role in the White House decision to kill Colby’s 
proposal for a second attempt to raise the Soviet submarine. 

White House Pressure on CIA’s Soviet Weapons Estimates 

adversary procedure ... no one has ever sug- 
gested that aciversanes seek to be wholly objective. ... In view of the un- 
even distribution of debating skills, one cannot fail to have qualms about the 
probable outcomes. One senior official has observed, only half facetiously 
that experience in debate is the most valuable training for analytical work. ’ 

James R. Schlesinger, April 1968^® 

As evident in previous chapters, the question of Soviet strategic 
weapons progress had, for some years before 1975, evoked the greatest 
White House criticism of National Intelligence Estimates. During his 
tenure as DCI, Colby twice came under direct pressure with respect to esti- 
^tes from the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). 

n ^ 1^*74, when Adm. George W. Anderson, Jn 

(USN, Ret,), the PFIAB ’s chairman, sent President Nixon a letter charging 
that the NIE 11-3/8 series was grossly underestimating Soviet ICBM 
progress, a view shared in particular by his PFIAB colleagues Edward 
Teller and John Foster. 

^ response, Colby got the Intelligence Cominunity to agree that the 
USSR’s leaders were unlikely to perceive themselves as approaching stra- 
tegic superiority so long as US strategic weapons research and develop- 
ment programs continued vigorously. Colby thereupon told President 

^The Washington Post, 19 March 197 5.n^ 

James ScKlSinger, “Uses and Abuses of Andysis," a memorandum prepared at the request 
of the Subcommittee on National Security and International Operations, Senate Committee on 
Government Operations, 1968, p. 2. At that time Schlesinger was Director of StratetnV 
Studies at the RAND Corporation. strategic 


William E. Colby 

Nixon that the Intelligence Community continued to believe, as they had 
most recently indicated (in NIE 11-8-73), that “under no foreseeable cir- 
cumstances m the next 10 years are the Soviets likely to develop and 
deploy forces of the magnitude and quality necessaiy to reduce damage to 
tfaen^elves to acceptable levels by a first strike against US strategic for- 
ces.” At the same time, however, Colby directed the Intelligence 

reexamine closely the specific technical questions the 
rriAB had raised. 

PHAB returned to the attack in the fall of 1975. This time PHAB 
Chairman Anderson told President Ford that the latest NIE on the subject 
(11-3/8-74), was “seriously misleading” in the presentation of a number of 
Its key judgments, and in “projecting a sense of complacency unsupported 
by the facts.”As a consequence, said Anderson, the NIE “is deficient for 
Ae purposes it should serve.”“ This time the White House proposed Aat 
Colby conduct an experiment in competitive intelligence analysis wherein 
Ae Intelligence Community and outside experts would prepare independent 
estimates of Soviet antisubmarine warfare capabilities and of Soviet ICBM 

with, him in giving the 

White House a polite “no.” In letters to Ae President and to PFIAB 
Chairman Anderson, Colby argued Aat because Ae preparation of Ae cur- 
rent estimate on Soviet strategic weapons progress (NIE 11-3/8-75) was 
already far along, the best procedure would be for Ae White House to wait 
to examine the new NIE’s finAngs, when it had been completed ” Colby 
recalls Aat on this occasion the PFIAB’s members also believed that 
nuclear expert /Ubert Wohlstetter had raised some “devastating ’’questions 
in a recent set of articles on the NIEs and Soviet advanced weapons 
progress. Colby recalls Aat “I sent Ae PHAB’s views to CIA’s DS&T for 
comment, but got back only a lot of gobbledegook. I then went to lisiB 
a^ said, ‘let’s wait until the new NEE comes out and Aen see whether Ae 
PFIAB likes Aat one any better.’ PFIAB didn’t, as it turned out.”” 

ViUiatn Colby, DCI, Memorandum for President Nixon. “Report on the Strategic Threat by 
the Presidents Foreign Inteiligence Advisory Board,” 18 May 1974 CIA History Staff 
recoids job 90B00336R. box 4. folder 49. OA Archives and ReLrds CcStiSly 
Fntz &mar(h (a participant in these examinations at the time, and later, CimiraiM of the 

^^December 1988 (hereafter cited as Ennarth interview by Ford, 7 December 1988) 

Memorandum for President Ford, “Possible Revisions in 

foMCT^g^nrA h ° Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 4 

tolder 49, CIA Archives and Records Center (SgcuefJ! 

^ ■'t- USN (Ret.), 2 December 

Admii^Andr^’f^‘ *“"' ff%Brent Scowcroft’s signature). Memorandum for 

Admiral Anderson, Chairman, President s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board “PFIAB 
Recommendations for Revision of the NIE Process.” 4 December 1975, (Sea»tf both docu- 
ments are located in CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R. box Af^er 49 QA 
Archives and Records Center. ’ 

^'‘Colby interview by Ford^ 9 August 1988. 


Other Slings and Arrows 


Colby was supported at USIB by Maj. Gen. George Keegan, the Air 
Force’s Intelligence Chief, even though . Keegan strongly shared PFIAB’s 
criticisms of the. National Intelligence Estimates. Moreover, in late 
November, after President Ford had announced that he was replacing 
Colby, General Keegan wrote Colby: 

I take great comfort that under your able aegis some independent judgments 
have been allowed. It has been a most noble start— and would that your even 
hand could be allowed to remain at the helm. Under your stewardship, the 
NIE process has improved markedly. For the first time in 23 years,’ our 
analysts are able to work together on something other than a feudal basis.^^ 

In 1976, following Colby’s departure as DCI, the PFIAB made a 
third attempt— this time successfully— to get the Intelligence Community 
to agree to a competitive analysis exercise.' The new DCI, George Bush, 
agreed to conduct such an experiment on three specific questions concern- 
ing Soviet advanced weapons. The result was the famous (or infamous) A 
Team-B Team episode. 

President Ford’s 1976 Executive Order on Intelligence 

The President’s initiative [in issuing an Executive order to reform the 
Intelligence Community] must be seen in its political perspective. . . . What 
the President has done, in effect, is to pull off a preemptive end-run of the 
Congress with the intelligence issue. 

Journalist Crosby S. Noyes, February 1976^® 

The scrutiny of CIA provoked by Seymour Hersh’s charges and the 
Rockefeller, Church, and Pike investigations implied from the start that US 
intelligence needed formal reform. Progress toward such reform had two 
fathers: CIA and — subsequently — the White House, as a followup to its 
Rockefeller panel. For some months of 1975, these two offices explored 
possible reform packages, independently of one another. Then, in August, 
their two efforts began to interweave. The culmination of this process was 
President Ford’s Executive order on US intelligence, issued on 18 February 
1976, a few days after George Bush became DCI. 

CIA played a major role in fashioning this Executive order. In several 
respects this Presidential directive was based on Colby’s and his CIA 
colleagues’ work in preparing what they termed their “Option X,” and 
reflected much of Colby’s own view of how US intelligence should be 

Maj. Gen. George J. Keegan, Jr., USAF, letter to William Colby, DCI, 21 November 1975 
CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 4, folder 49, CIA Archives and Records 

The Washington Post^ 24 February 1976. 


William E. Colby 


organized and controlled. Indeed, Colby himself had put considerable effort 
into this endeavor Chronologically, CIA was first in the field; the adminis> 
tratidn did not begin work on an Executive order until six months later. 
Cl A s interests started in late January 1975, just a month following 
Seymour Hersh’s bombshell. On 27 January 1975, James Taylor, at the 
time CIA s Acting Comptroller, told Colby that, in addition to fighting the 
immediate crises involved in the several looming investigations of the 
Agency, “we should also begin now to consider possible changes for the 
future that may arise out of the current review.” Taylor named four particu- 
lar areas on which CIA should focus: the quality of its management. 
Congressional review of CIA*s progress and budget. Executive review and 
control of the Ag ency, and the inte rnal controls CIA should impose on it- 
self.^^ Taylor and | (CIA’s Acdng General Counsel) subse- 

quently poHshed these ideas, with the hope of eventually presenting them 
to Presidential Counsel John Marsh. In June, Taylor circulated proposed 
terms of reference for a special CIA study group tasked to give Colby its 
final draft by 2 September.^* 

The first White House stirrings toward an Executive order began in 
August, their focus much broader than the initiatives CIA was taking. In 
early September, Henry Kissinger prepared a first draft on the many issues 
to be covered, and on 19 September, President Ford established a formal 
White House body, headed by John Marsh, to prepare a formal Executive 
order on US intelligence. During October, Colby gave his own (Taylor- 
Greany) study to the President. Since Colby was on his way out by this 
time, the CIA’s more modest “Option X” efforts toward an intelligence 
charter were quickly outgunned by the White House initiative for an 
Executive order. 

In November, NSC officer Brent Scowcroft finally gave Colby (and 
other Washington principals) a copy of a draft Executive order, with a re- 
quest for comments on it. Colby’s responses were candid and feiirly critical. 
Submitting them on 18 November, he held that the White House draft dealt 

^’James Taylor, Acting Comptroller Memorandum for William Colby, DCI, “Future 
Reforms,” 27 January 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, CIA 
Archives and Records Center (ggewt?, 

"James Taylor, Deputy Comptroller buckslip for Secretary of the Management Committee, 
attached to ‘Termj of Reference: CIA Study Group,” 11 June 1975, CIA History Staff 
records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 48, CIA Archives and Records Center 

Maj. Gen. Jack E. Thomas, Chief, Coordination Staff, Intelligence Community Staff, 
Memorandum (plus attachments) for William Colby, DCI, “Proposed Executive Orders ”* 
5 September 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 48, CIA 
Archives and Records Center. Colby was so isolated from the White House by this time that 
Kissinger and his colleagues did not give him a copy of their memorandum for the President. 
Neither Colby nor anyone else at CIA Headquarters saw it until 23 September, wten George 
Carver, having learned of its existence from Gen. Daniel Graham of the IC Staff, sent Colby 
a bootleg copy he had winkled from Graham (attachment to George Carver, Memorandum for 
the DCI, “Memorandum on Traplementation of Recommendations on Intelligence’ sent to 
the President on 5 September,” 23 September 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 
90B00336R, box 3, folder 48, CIA Archives and Records Center). 




Other Slings and Arrows 

too much with bits and pieces of the total problem and did not pull them 
together, that the White House draft should be amended to provide the DCI 
ah independent analytical capability, that the draft did not adequately de- 
fine the DCFs authority and responsibilities, and that the administration 
might wish to consider further options that encapsuled part of the “Option 
X that Colby and other CIA officers had been developing/** 

On 6 January 1976, Colby gave the White House still more of his 
views on its draft Executive order. Colby’s chief recommendations this 
time were that the executive branch ask Congress to consolidate its inteUi- 
gence oversight activities, that the Intelligence Community’s structure not 
be radically changed, and that the National Security Act of 1947 be 
pended specifically to authorize covert operations, that— to guard against 
leaks-^nly one Congressional committee be advised of such operations 
Colby s recommendations are notable both because they reflect the con- 
siderable time and attention he gave such questions even as he was about 

to be replaced as DCI, and because the Executive order eventually incorpo- 
rated several of them. ^ 

Other Alarms and Excursions of 1975 

director of the OA at a traumatic period in the agency’s 
history. He had gone through hell and, in my opinion, done a splendid 
j I ' ^ before one committee after another. I suo- 

decision to tell the truth about past agency misdeeds even though 
both of us recognized that his testimony would be embarrassing. Colby was 
smart; he possessed both integrity and guU, and I liked and respected him 
very much. Yet this did not alter my conviction that the agency needed a 

Gerald R. Ford, 1979" 

addition to the demands on him already examined in this study 
Colby also had to wrestle with other challenges during his last year as 
Director. The most significant of these are briefly stated below. 

The Mayaguez Rescue 

On 12 May 1975, two weeks after the fall of Saigon, Cambodian 
forces fued upon and captured the US merchant ship Mayaguez in the Gulf 
of Siam, taking the crew’s members to the small island of Koh Tang. After 

Wlliam Colby, DQ, letter to James T. Lynn, Director, Office of Management and Budect 
„ J heading up the White House’s task group preparing the Executive 

order), 18 December 1975, CIA History Staff records, job 90B00336R, box 3, folder 48 CIA 
Archives and Records Center (CjjBfiiiHiaj. ’ ^ 

Staff records, job 

90B00336R, box 3, folder 48, CIA Archives and Records Center 

Row^^^?979)^’ ^ Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford (New York: Harper and 


William E. Colby 


failing in its attempts to negotiate their release, the White House on 
14 M ay launched the first of its military strikes against several Cam bodian 


Diego Garcia ^ . 

During 1975, Colby was asked repeatedly for evaluations of the 

Soviet naval buildup in the Indian Ocean. This was an especially touchy 
question because analyses of Soviet intentions varied considerably within 
the US Government. To the Navy and to Henry Kissinger, the Russians 
were coming; hence, the United States should hurry to stren^en the mih- 
tary potential of the remote, British-owned Indian Ocean island of Diego 
Garcia. By contrast, CIA’s intelligence indicated that no sudden great 
Soviet buildup was likely in the Indian Ocean, given the absence of a pnor 
US buildup there. According to the senior DI officer who accompanmd him 
to the policy meetings, Colby stuck to his guns in the face of stiff hi^- 
level opposition from both Defense Department and White House; in this 
officer’s opinion, this constituted “one of Colby’s finest hours. 

Covert US Support of Kurdish Rebels • 

CIA had earlier supported Kurdish rebels in Iraq, an effort champi- 
oned by Henry Kissinger over the Agency’s objections. The resulting 
covert program augmented the more substantial support *e Shah of Iran 
had given these Kurds for some time. In early September 1975, however, a 
major public flap occurred when journalist Darnel Schorr reveded that 
President Nixon had arranged this CIA program and that *e Sh* had later 
changed his mind and abruptly suspended Iran’s support of the Kurds, leav- 
ing them high and dry, Schorr’s information had been leaked to him from 
the Pike committee, to which Colby had recently given closed testimony 
on this sensitive issue. The day following Schorr’s broadest. President 
Ford called Colby to the White House and informed him that he was going 
to be replaced as DCI. 

Soviet Military Spending 

This issue came to a head in October 1975, when sizable differences 
developed between the DCI’s judgments and those of Defense Secretapr 
Schlesinger (and other senior Pentagon figures). Colby’s position, which he 

"For details see David Mark. “The Mayaguei Rescue Operation Revisited,” Studies in 

“7ohn^S?meUTnT^^^^^ FoKmmary notes. Washington g^^ovemter 

1986 (hereafter cited as Chomeau interview by Ford, 3 November 1986) (Sgp*<!t). The US 
military, nonetheless, subsequently built up Diego Garcia. 


Other Slings and Arrows 

gave in testimony to Congress, was that Soviet military spending was not 
moving rapidly upward but was proceeding at the same steady 3-percent 
annual rise that it had maintained over previous decades. Colby also held 
that a substantial portion of Soviet defense expenditures was absorbed by 
missions for which there was no comparable US outlay, such as the costs 
of the military buildup along the Soviet Union’s borders with China."^^ 

StiU Other Issues 

During the waning months of his DCI stewardship, Colby faced 
many such demands, over and above those already discussed. The most . 
demanding of the se additional issu es were the fall of Cambodia and the 

evacuation of US 

officials, suspension by Turkey of cer- 

tain US base rights 


The End of the Road 

On 30 January 1976, Colby departed CIA for the last time. Journalist 
Laurence Stem caught this poignant moment, writing that as Colby walked 
the last few steps to his car for his final drive home, “a rising gust of ap- 
plause occurred as the crowd of colleagues, some of them wet-eyed,” real- 
ized that Colby had been “a victim of changing public attitudes and the 
revelations that he himself had set in motion.” Stem closed with this com- 

The car, with Colby at the wheel, moved slowly away from the guards and 
the applause as President Ford and Bush shook hands. ... It was an ending 
that would have done justice to George Smiley, the antihero of spy novelist 
John Le Carre: understated and not without its ironies."^ 

So ended Colby’s 28-month reign as Director of Central Intelligence. 
His intentions had been admirable. He had initiated many reforms and han- 
dled many problems skillfully. But, in the end, changing circumstances and 
certain of his own missteps brought him down. He left office with the 
respect and good wishes of many — ^but not of those that counted most: 
Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford. 

■‘^In article by Laurence Stem, The Washington Post, 22 October 1975, Colby’s testimony not- 
withstanding, the estimate that prevailed was that Soviet military spending was skyrocketing. 
^The Washington Post, 31 January 1976. 




Chapter 13 


That we stand here now on restricted ground, that we interviewed Colby in 
his seventh-floor office are themselves signs that the cloak has started com- 
ing off. Colby saw that coming, and, professional to the end, tried to prepare 
the CIA for the inevitable. ... To defend his agency, he adopted a policy of 
cautious candor with investigating committees that sometimes got him into 
trouble within his agency and in the Administration. He considers himself 
expendable, and he was expended. 

Journalist Daniel Schorr, January 1976' 

During his first year as DCI, William Colby enjoyed some success in 
illustrating his managerial skills, his powers of initiatiye, and — most of 
all — ^his unique confidence that the times called for a new, more open CIA. 
His last year as DCI nonetheless abounded in trouble. Not only was he be- 
set by a myriad of difficult problems, but also his position was progres- 
sively undermined by indications that the White House had decided to 
replace him. The public’s first inkling of this came in May 1975, presuma- 
bly the result of orchestrated leaks from the administration; such leaks con- 
tinued up to the time President Ford announced in November that he was 
firing Colby. 

It is ironic — and perhaps symbolic — that Colby, the Church commit- 
tee, and the Pike committee aU faltered at the very same time. It was on 
28 January 1976 that the House of Representatives voted against publish- 
ing the Pike committee report. The next day, 29 January, the Church com- 
mittee split on whether to publish its final report, with Senators Tower, 
Goldwater, and Baker all voting against making the report public. The very 
next day, 30 January, was Colby’s last as DCI. 

Looking back on these events, it is difficult to quarrel with Colby’s 
assessment that in the end it was the excesses of the Church and Pike 
committees — coming on top of his other troubles with the White 
House — ^that made him expendable. Yet almost from the outset of his DCI 
tenure two years before, he had operated under fundamental constraints 
limiting his authority and the impact he could reasonably expect to make as 
Director of Central Intelligence. 

'Daniel Schorr, CBS television interview with William Colby, Washington, DC, 21 January 


William E. Colby 

To many knowledgeable observers, Colby’s fall was largely of his 
own making. Former DDI R. Jack Smith, for example, has stated that “the 
ethics of personal relationships do not apply to international affairs. And I 
don’t think Bill recognizes that if you follow his argument to its conclu- 
sion, you cannot have an intelligence service,” In Smith’s opinion, a 
government has “to have some sort of sanctuary in a society’s set of values 
in which secret things take place. America has never grown up in its think- 
ing about it.”" Similarly, former DCI Richard Helms— not surprisingly— 
has been very critical of Colby; in 1978 he told David Frost, “I don’t be- 
lieve that Colby was a KGB agent.”" Yet, many senior figures— in and out 
of the Agency — gave Colby very high marks, contending that he handled 
an extremely difficult job in an exemplary fashion. For example. Senator 
Charles Percy (R-IL) offered this encomium on the eve of Colby’s retire- 

At a dme when the CIA was under great attack from all fronts for misdeeds 
before your directorship, you have maintained a degree of candor and open- 
ness and a very welcomed and appropriate sense of humor ... I think 
you’ve been a great American and I think you have performed as a great hu- 
man being.*^ 

Colby’s tenure, as Director of Central Intelligence was clearly one of 
mixed results. Although he was an often-effective manager, only some of 
his ambitious initiatives led to significant or lasting gain, while his abrupt 
style sometimes provoked resistance from both below and above. Within 
the Agency, his openness with investigating eommittees and his handling 
of the Angleton and Helms issues earned him the lasting enmity of many 
colleagues, especially in his own Directorate of Operations. More impor- 
tant, up the line, he never became a confidant of Henry Kissinger, President 
Nixon, or President Ford. With them, Colby remained a senior staff officer, 
speaking when he was spoken to and offering the views of US intelligence 
on the state of the world. His impact on policymaking was thus at best in- 
direct; Henry Kissinger remained in effect the President’s DCI, Secretary 
of State, and National Security Assistant. That Colby turned out to be more 
his own man and less a yes-man than the administration had initially ex- 
pected, simply aggravated his relationships with Kissinger, Nixon, and 

^R. Jack Smith, interview by John Ranelagh, as cited in Ranelagh, The Agency, p. 558. Smith 
had earlier served successively as a member of the Board in the omcc of National Estimates, 
Director of the DI’s Office of Current Intelligence, CIA’s Deputy Director for Intelligence, 

^cSSTHelms, interview 22-23 May 1978, as reprinted in “An Interview 

with Richard Helms,” Studies in Intelligence 25 (fall 1981): p, 17 (Unclassified). 

^Senator Charles Percy, remarks made to William Colby during hearing of the Senate 
Government Operations Committee, 23 January 1976, as aired that evening on WETATV. 




For that matter, it was perhaps a mistake for the Nixon administration 
to have chosen a professional intelligence officer as DCI, since by 
mid- 1973 the Watergate-beset Presidency would have been better but- 
tressed by a DCI from outside, some known public figure who could have 
lent the White House some political status of his own. Once in office, 
moreover, Colby’s performance as DCI did not dispel much of the disdain 
with which the White House had long viewed CIA. Indeed, in spite of be- 
ing an experienced, deft operator, Colby’s failure to alert his superiors to 
the coming storms of the ‘family jewels,” Seymour Hersh’s charges, and 
past CIA dalliance with assassination planning fatally damaged his stand- 
ing with the White House. 

Nor did Colby succeed in gaining widespread support from the public 
at large. He assumed that his own good intentions would be recognized and 
welcomed. Many of the key actors in the country, however, did not con- 
sider it in their interest to respond positively to Colby’s efforts toward 
greater openness. He never received general appreciation as the officer who 
had uncovered and outlawed certain questionable CIA practices. On the 
contrary, to a large degree the television cameras buttressed the public’s - 
impression that its concerns about CIA illegalities were legitimate. 

Colby’s own background also hurt him, especially his earlier involve- 
ment in the PHOENIX program in Vietnam. Correctly or not, that opera- 
tion was widely viewed as having involved numerous excesses. Many 
would not take Colby’s protestations of good intentions at face value, espe- 
cially since he was now confirming to Congress and the American public 
the reality of such questionable earlier CIA conduct. Moreover, his own 
rather formal manner did not help him sell his reforms. 

Other, broader factors also limited Colby’s chances of success: He 
had been dealt a weak hand from the outset of his tenure. By that time, 
public attitudes with respect to US intelligence had begun to shift, and 
some past practices, especially those relating to covert operations, no 
longer enjoyed wide support. Rightly or wrongly, a certain euphoria about 
detente signified to many that there was now a less overriding need for 
continuing covert operations as a ready, effective weapon in our country’s 
Cold War arsenal. Public support waned further when Colby himself con- 
firmed existing suspicions about certain past CIA practices. Public dismay 
about Watergate had rubbed off on CIA as well, in light of the many alle- 
gations that the Agency had been involved in that scandal. At the same 
time, the days of coziness between a DCI and Capitol Hill mandarins were 
coming to an end, and new initiatives were afoot to create more thorough 
Congressional oversight of ClA, Throughout, Colby found he could not 
count on Messrs. Nixon, Ford, or Kissinger for much-needed support on 
Capitol Hill. 




William E. Colby 

In short, Colby’s effort to strengthen US intelligence through candor 
was seriously constrained from many sides. His revelations fueled the 
excesses of the Church and Pike committees, fed the public’s misconcep- 
tions about the purposes of US intelligence, and weakened the country’s 
support of intelligence — at least for some time thereafter. 

It is nonetheless this author’s view that, while one may criticize cer- 
tain aspects of William Colby’s stewardship as Director of Central 
Intelligence, it is his positive accomplishments that deserve emphasis. 
Above all, Colby brought to the Directorship a sophisticated vision of what 
US intelligence should be all about, and he was creative in his efforts to so 
transform CIA. He was unique — especially as one who had come out of a 
wholly clandestine background in intelligence — ^in realizing that the DCI 
position he inherited in the mid-1970s involved responsibilities far beyond 
those traditionally championed by the DO. He also appreciated the changes 
in those Cold War attitudes that for more than two decades had so strongly 
fashioned CIA’s character and conduct As a former lawyer, Colby was 
determined that a DCI and CIA must respect the rule of law, must try to 
better fit the secret arms of government into the open patterns and values 
of American political life, and must respond to meaningful oversight by the 
Congress. Accordingly, he believed that he had to play it straight with 
Congress and the White House, reserving CIA’s skills at conning adver- 
saries for legitimate intelligence targets abroad. Even though his own 
earlier career had been almost wholly in covert action, Colby realized that 
such operations were limited in their applicability and should no longer be 
considered the central contribution of US intelligence to national life. 

Colby felt strongly that the primary purpose of US intelligence must 
be to enrich the knowledge of policymakers, enabling them to better deal 
with the world threats and opportunities facing the United States. He real- 
ized that there was increasing need for wholly new types of collection sys- 
tems, intelligence analysis, and intellignce interest. Finally, knowing that 
greater public support was necessary in order to finance the rising costs of 
tomorrow’s Intelligence Community, he appreciated the importance of 
educating the American pubUc about the central purposes of intelligence — 
another reason for greater openness on the part of the DCI and the CIA. 

These insights and Colby’s mixed record of achievements add up to 
more than just good intentions gone awry. His contribution reflected broad, 
statesmanlike appreciations and efforts. It is a pity that his overall tenure as 
DCI had overtones of a Greek tragedy, inasmuch as it was his fate to be 
buried beneath the cumulative effect of past CIA illegalities, a hostile 
White House, irresponsible Congressional committees, a sensationalist 




press, a suspicious public, and many CIA colleagues tied more to the past 
(and to personal friendship with Richard Helms) than to appreciation of 
what Colby was about/ 

Shortly after he left office, Colby himself offered perhaps one of the 
most accurate assessments of his pCI tenure and its significance for 

Did something new emerge? Yes, intelligence has traditionally existed in a 
shadowy field outside the law. This year's excitement has made clear that the 
rule of law applies to all parts of the American Government, including intel- 
ligence, ... Its secrets wiU be understood to be necessary ones for the pro- 
tection of our democracy in tomorrow's world, not covers for mistake or 
misdeed. . . . The costs of the past year were high, but they will be ex- 
ceeded by the value of this strengthening of what was already the best intel- 
ligence service in the world.® 


If Colby has taken a lot of flak over the years about his DCI perfor- 
mance, he can find some consolation in a belated compliment from his 
principal boss, Henry Kissinger, a tough critic not known for compassion 
or confessions of error. As Colby recalls, one day late in 1975, Kissinger 
took him aside in the Oval Office and told him, “Bill, I feel required to say 
this to you. For the longest time I believed that what yon were doing was 
wrong, that what you should have done was to cry havoc over the investi- 
gations in the name of national security. But I have come around to believe 
that your strategy was really correct,”*^ Whether or not Henry Kissinger 
was sincere on that occasion, Colby must be given credit for noble inten- 
tions and for having played well the poor hand he was dealt. 

^Interviews and available documentary evidence indicate that, among intelligence officers, 
many of the severest critics of Colby tend to be DO and former DO officers; whereas other 
intelligence officers — from such worlds as Congressional liaison, analysis, science and tech- 
nology, General Counsel, Inspector General, and non-CIA intelligence officers — tend to give 
Colby higher marks, 

^illiam Colby, article in The New York Times, 26 February 1976. 

’CoIby, Honorable Men, p. 450, 





Appendix A 

William E. Colby’s CIA Career 

November 1950 Joins CIA. First assignment: Western European 

Division, Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) 

i951 OPC’s representative in 

1953 Deputy Directorate for Plans (DDP) political ac- 

tion officer,! 

Deputy Chief of Station, Saigon 

Chief of Station, Saigon 

Deputy Chief, Far East Division, DDP 

Chief, Far East Division, DDP 

Assigned to Agency for International 
Development (AID) as Deputy Director of Civil 
Operations and Rural Development (CORDS), 

Director, CORDS (with the rank of Ambassador) 

1972 CIA’s Executive Director-Comptroller 

1973 Deputy Director for Operations (DDO) 

10 May 1973 Nominated as DCI by President Nixon 

4 September 1973— Director of Central Intelligence 
30 January 1976 








Appendix B 

Observations on William Colby’s Makeup 

Oriana Fallaci (in an interview of Colby) 

A priest like you. Oh, Mr. Colby, you’ll never know how much you two 
[referring to Portugese Communist Party chief Alvaro Cunhal] resemble 
each other. Had you been bom on the other side of the barricade, you 
would have been a perfect Stalinist. 

Colby (responding to Fallaci) 

I reject such a statement. . . . But . . . well ... it might be. No, no. It 
might not. And I am not a priest. At the most Fm a puritan. 

Representative Otis Pike, December 1975 
It has been my experience and judgment that if you [Mr. Colby] are asked 
precisely the right question, you will give aii honest answer. You do not 
lead us into those areas which would help us know what the right question 
was to ask. You do not make it easy for us to ask the right quesdon. 
Anyone who thinks you have been running back and forth to Capitol Hill 
with briefcases bulging with secrets which you are eager to bestow upon us 
hasn’t sat on my side of the desk.^ 

Representative Otis Pike, April 1976 
Mr. Colby is a very bright man and he knows how to play with words. But 
he isn’t dishonest.^ 

Nguyen Cao Ky (onetime South Vietnamese strongman) 

I returned to the hangar after one night flight to find a stranger waiting to 
meet me. He wore glasses, was rather slight and pale, with nondescript 
hair. He spoke very softly and seemed a quiet man. I remember thinking he 
looked like a student of philosophy, untU I saw the eyes behind the glasses: 
never still, watching every movement, watching everybody in the room. 

‘Colby interview by Fallaci, 7 March 1976. 

*Pike statement to DCI Colby, as cited in Donald Gregg, “Congress and the Directorate of 
Operations — An Odd Couple?” Studies in Intelligence 23 (spring 1979): p. 34. 

^Fallaci interview with Congressman Otis Pike, as cited in The New Republic ^ 3 April 1976, 

p. 10. 

Nguyen Cao Ky, Twenty Years and Twenty Days (New York: Stein & Day, 1976), p. 24. 

William E, Colby 

David Martin 

An intense* unflappable . . . Catholic. ... A colorless but decent man, 
Colby seemed the model of the faceless but faithful government ser- 
vant. . . . Colby seemed the clandestine replica of Harry Truman, even 
down to the clear-rimmed spectacles.^ 


Clemenceau said that he who is not a radical when he is young has no 
heart; he who is not conservative when he’s old has no brain. ... If you 
support some authoritarian leader against a Communist threat, you leave 
the option that the authoritarian state could become democratic in the fu- 
ture. With the Communists, the future offers no hope. . . . Pinochet is not 
going to conquer the world. Nobody is worried about Pinochet.^ 

An anonymous CIA officer critical of Colby 
I just have a feeling about Bill Colby that he is quite lacking in the quali- 
ties that enable most of us to be introspective about our behavior As far as 
I can judge his mind, I have a feeling it’s a pretty blunt mind that has cer- 
tain fixed points in it. I have this feeling that he has the ability to reduce 
quite complicated questions to points that just won’t do with the real 
world. One of his friends and admirers said to me, “The thing you have to 
understand about Bill Colby is that he’s intransigent.” Everybody I’ve ever 
talked to who worked with Bill said that they would go in and talk to him, 
and he would smile and listen to them, and nine times out of ten they 
would come but persuaded that he would think about it, but he never 
swerved. He had a total incapacity to compromise. That’s the judgment 
I’ve come to.’ 

David Phillips (former senior DO officer) 

Slight of build, with pale, dull eyes, Colby appeared to be almost anything 
rather than soldier or intelligence chief. . . . Colby the priest was con- 
cerned about people. He always found time, despite a hectic daily agenda, 
to listen to any CIA employee who had a grievance to discuss with the 
boss. “Bill,” a senior colleague told me, “would stop his business to 
stroke any stray cat which wandered into his office.” Colby lunched regu- 
larly with junior officers in the cafeteria, seeking their opinions and prob- 
ing for early warning of morale problems. Colby the soldier could be 
tough, even stubborn. In 1973 he conducted an informal poll among senior 
officers asking what they thought of his idea of publishing a daily 

^avid C. Martin, Wilderness of Mirrors (New York: Harper & Row, 1980), p, 145, p. 211. 
^Colby interview by FaUaci, 7 March 1976. 

’Quoted in Ranelagh, The Agency, p, 558. 


newspaper at CIA. They unanimously considered it a poor idea and told 
Colby so. The DCI mulled their recommendations then proceeded with his 

David Phillips (in selecting which of five former 
DCIs one would choose as a sole companion if 
shipwrecked on a desert island when a book ti- 
tled How To Build a Boat for One Passenger hap- 
pened to float ashore) 

I selected Colby. He would get us both off that island. Certainly he would 
never entertain the notion of building a boat for one or, if he did reach that 
point, he would later stand in the surf and wave goodbye — a faint smile on 
his thin lips — after pushing me out to sea/ 

John Ranelagh 

[Colby’s] instinct was to reach for the law and be guided by the letter of 
the law when in crisis, rather than, to reach for friends and private arrange- 
ments. It was the contrast between the Journalist, Helms, with a concept of 
“off-the-record” and “deep background briefing” and the lawyer, Colby, 
who knew that ultimately everything was on the record under law.‘° 

Thomas Powers 

Colby was Helms’s opposite in his approach to intelligence, by tempera- 
ment and choice a covert political operator, impatient with the caution and 
painstaking procedure of traditional intelligence collection. . . . [He was] 
fundamentally out of sympathy with the sort of intelligence service Helms . 
believed in,“ 

Aaron Latham (in his novel, Orchids for Mother) 

Even at his best, O’Hara [Colby] resembled a Xerox copy of a man. Mad, 
he looked like a Xerox of a Xerox. 

Bob Woodward 

To a question about CIA secrets from someone without the proper security ., 
clearance or need to know, Colby’s face would grow small and seem to dis- 
appear, running for cover behind his glasses and into his eye sockets. His 
palms would turn out and his- shoulders fly toward his ears. He didn’t 

‘Phillips, The Night Watch, pp, 244-245. Among those officers who responded to Colby in the 
negative about his idea for a current intelligence newspaper was the author of this study, 
Harold P. Ford. What these critics did not perhaps know was th at Colby had had a yen for 
such a classified newspaper for 20 years, ever since 1953 when in| |ie had talked up his 
idea — unsuccessfully — to the visiting DCI Allen Dulles. 

p. 280. 

'^Ranelagh, The Agency, p. 615, 

"Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets, p. 360. 

'^Latham, Orchids for Mother, p. 17. 

'^Bob Woodward, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 (New York; Simon & 
Schuster, 1987), pp. 61-62. 

William E. Colby 


Patrick McGarvey (former CIA officer stationed in Saigon) 

This guy walks in. An innocent looking little man with glasses. Mr. 
Peepers. He asked us what we do. “Christ,’’ I said, “We spend eight hours 
a day trying to figure that out.” . . . Then he says, “By the way, my 
name’s Bill Colby.”*" 

William Bader (former CIA officer, and a senior 
stalker Church committee) 

Of all the personalities who came before the Committee, Colby’s was the 
most difficult for us to fathom. I saw quite a bit of him, but I was never 
sure just who the real Bill Colby was.*^ 

Ray S. Cline 

Bill is a courageous, broadminded intelligence officer, a man of total in- 
tegrity and dedication to the public service.*^ 

Bill was moral, upright, almost a Boy Scout. He was righteous, at least as 
he defined the particular righteousness in question. Colby, like Bill Casey 
later, had a great certainty that by talking to the press he could bring news- 
men around to the point of view he wanted them to carry away. But, in the 
case of both Bills, such certainty was misplaced, and the results were the 
other way around: Sy Hersh did in Colby, Bob Woodward did in Casey. 

'**Patrick McGarvey, as quoted in David Wise, “Dark Side Up; Colby of C.I.A. — C.I.A. of 
Colby,” The New York Times Magazine^ 1 July 1973. 

‘^William Bader, interview by Harold P. Ford, summary notes, Washington, DC, 12 July 1988. 
‘^ay S. Cline, Secrets, Spies and Scholars: Blueprint of the Essential CIA (Washington, DC: 
Acropolis Books, 1976), p, 219. 

‘^Cline interview by Ford, 31 March 1988. 

Appendix C 

Excerpts From Seymour Hersh’s Charges 

trri i.r Against the CIA 

{The New York Times, 22 December, 1974) 




The Central Intelligence Agency, direcdy violating its charter, con- 
ducted a massive, illegal domestic operation during the Nixon admi^stra- 
tion against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United 
States, according to well-placed Government sources. 

An extensive investigation by The New York Times has established 
that intelligence files on at least 10,000 American citizens were maintained 
by a specM unit of the C.I.A. that was reporting directly to Richard Hehns, 
then the Director of Central Intelligence and now Ambassador to Iran. 

Mr. Helms, who became head of the C.I.A. in 1966 and left the 
agency in February 1973, for his new post in Teheran, could not be reached 
despite telephone calls there yesterday and today. 

At least one avowedly antiwar member of Congress was among those 
placed under surveillance by the C.I.A., the sources said. Other members of 
Congress were said to be included in the C.I.A.’s dossier on dissident 


William E, Colby 

It also could not be determined whether Mr, Helms had had specific 
authority from the President or any of his top officials to initiate the al- 
leged domestic surveillance, or whether Mr, Helms had informed the 
President of the fruits, if any, of the alleged operations. 

These alleged activities are known to have distressed both Mr. 
Schlesinger, now the Secretary of Defense, and Mr. Colby. Mr. Colby has 
reportedly told associates that he is considering the possibility of asking 
the Attorney General to institute legal action against some of those who 
had been involved in the alleged domestic activities. 

But he [Schlesinger] was described by an associate as extremely con- 
cerned and disturbed by what he discovered at the C.I.A. upon replacing 
Mr, Helms. 

“He found himself in a cesspool/’ the associate said. “He was hav- 
ing a grenade blowing up in his face every time he turned around. 

“Counterintelligence!” one high-level Justice Department official ex- 
claimed upon being given some details of the C.LA.’s alleged domestic 
operations. “They’re not supposed to have any counter-intelligence opera- 
tions in this country,” 

“Oh my God,” he said, “oh my God.” 

A former high-level F.B.L official who operated in domestic coun- 
terintelligence areas since World War I, expressed astonishment and then 
anger upon being told of the C.LA.’s alleged domestic activities. 

“We had an agreement with them that they weren’t to do anything 
unless they checked with us,” he said. “They double-crossed me all 

The C.I.A. domestic activities during the Nixon Administration were 
directed, the source said, by James Angleton, who is still in charge of the 
Counterintelligence Department, the agency’s most powerful and mysteri- 
ous unit. 




. Excerpts . 

The Times' sources, who included men with access to first-hand 
knowledge of the C.IA.’s alleged domestic activities, took sharp exception 
to the official suggestion that such activities were the result of legitimate 
counterintelligence needs. 

“Look, that’s how it started,” one man said. “They were looking for 
evidence of foreign involvement in the antiwar movement. But that’s not 
how it ended up. This just grew and mushroomed internally.” 

This source and others knowledgeable about the C.I.A. believe that 
Mr. Angleton was permitted to continue his alleged domestic operations 
because of the great power he wields inside the agency as director of coun- 

Dozens of other former C.I.A. men talked in recent interviews with 
similar expressions of fear and awe about Mr. Angleton, an accomplished 
botanist and Yale graduate who once edited a poetiy magazine there. 

Most of the domestic surveillance and the collection of domestic in- 
telligence was conducted, the sources said, by one of the most clandestine 
units in the United States intelligence community, the special operations 
branch of counterintelligence. 

“That’s really the deep snow section,” one high-level intelligence ex- 
pert said of the unit, whose liaison with Mr. Helms was conducted by 
Richard Ober, a longtime counterintelligence official who has served in 
New Delhi for the C.IA. 

“Ober had unique and very confidential access to Helms,” the former 
C.I.A. man said. “I always assumed he was mucking about with Americans 
who were abroad and then would come back, people like the Black 

The official also raised a question about the bureaucratic procedures 
of the C. LA. under Mr. Helms and suggested that his penchant for secrecy 
apparently kept the most complete intelligence information from being for- 
warded to the White House. 


Central IntettigeDce Agency 

Washington, D.C. 20505 

2 September 2011 

Mr. James L. Srodes 
1754 Park Road, NW 
Washington, DC 20010-2105 

Reference: F-2007-00091 

Dear Mr. Srodes: 

This is a final response to your 4 August 2006 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request 
for The CIA in-house biography of William Colby prepared by Harold P. Ford. As you will 
recall, in our 1 8 October 2006 letter, we informed you that we had already initiated searches for 
information for an earlier request received prior to yours. We cross-referenced your request to the 
earlier one in order to send you any records that were found to be releasable. 

The earlier case has recently concluded. We have enclosed the document, totaling 236 
pages, which we can release in segregable form with deletions made on the basis of FOIA 
exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3). An explanation of exemptions is enclosed. Exemption (b)(3) 
pertains to information exempt from disclosure by statute. The relevant statute is the Central 
Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, 50 U.S.C. § 403, as amended, e.g.. Section 6, which exempts 
firom the disclosure requirement information pertaining to the organization, functions, including 
those related to the protection of intelligence sources and methods, names, official titles, salaries, 
and numbers of personnel employed by the Agency. Since you are entitled to the first 100 pages 
free of charge the total cost to you is $13.60. Please remit a check or money order made payable to 
the Treasurer of the United States citing reference number F-2007-00091 to ensure proper credit to 
your account. 

As the CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, I am the CIA official responsible for this 
determination. You have the right to appeal this response to the Agency Release Panel, in my care, 
within 45 days from the date of this letter. Please include the basis of your appeal. 


Information and Privacy Coordinator 


Explanation of Exemptions 

Freedom of Information Act : 

(b)(1) applies to material which is properly classified pursuant to an Executive order in the interest of 
national defense or foreign policy; 

(b)(2) appUes to information which pertains solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the 

(b)(3) applies to mformation pertaining to the CIA Director’s statutory obligations to protect from 
disclosure intelligence sources and methods, as well as the organization, functions, names, 
official titles, salaries or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency, in accordance with the 
National Security Act of 1 947 and/or the CIA Act of 1 949; 

(b)(4) applies to information such as trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained 
from a person on a privileged or confidential basis; 

(b)(5) applies to inter- and intra-agency memoranda or letters which are predecisional and 

deliberative in nature, or consist of attorney work-product or attorney-client information; 

(b)(6) applies to mformation, the release of which would constitute an imwarranted invasion of the 
personal privacy of other individuals; and 

(b)(7) applies to investigatory records, the release of which could: (A) interfere with enforcement 
proceedings, (C) constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of others, 

(D) disclose the identity of a confidential source, (E) disclose investigative techniques and 
procedures, or (F) endanger the life or physical safety of an individual 

Privacy Act ; 

(d)(5) applies to information compiled in reasonable anticipation of a civil action or proceeding; 

(j) (l) appUes to polygraph records; documents or segregable portions of documents, the release of 

which would disclose intelligence sources and methods, including names of certain Agency 
employees and organizational components; and documents or information provided by foreign 

(k) (l) applies to material properly classified pursuant to an Executive order in the interest of national 

defense or foreign policy; 

(k)(2) applies to investigatory material compiled for law enforcement purposes; 

(k)(5) applies to investigatory material compiled solely for the purpose of determining suitability, 

eligibility, or qualifications for Federal civilian employment, or access to classified 
information, the release of which would disclose a confidential source; and 

(k)(6) applies to testing or examination material used to determine individual qualifications for 
appointment or promotion in Federal Government service, the release of which would 
compromise the testing or examination process. 

January 2001